Nearly two months after Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was downed in the rebel-controlled territory of eastern Ukraine, Dutch investigators have revealed the findings from their preliminary report — confirming what had already been speculated about the flight. The report from the Dutch Safety Board concluded MH17 was struck by "high-energy objects" and crashed on July 17 after breaking apart mid-air. All 298 passengers and crew on board were killed in the crash.
The "high-energy objects" came from outside the aircraft, but investigators didn't explicitly say it was a missile. The report also didn't state who was responsible for the deadly impact. However, the report does suggest that MH17 was shot down from the ground, and not from the air.
The investigators concluded:
The damage observed in the forward section of the aircraft appears to indicate that the aircraft was penetrated by a large number of high-energy objects from outside the aircraft. It is likely that this damage resulted in a loss of structural integrity of the aircraft, leading to an in-flight break up.
The investigators noted that the fragments of wreckage they could identify, from the cockpit and forward section of the plane, had multiple puncture holes. The material surrounding the holes, as well as how deformed they were, also suggests the plane was "punctured by high-energy objects." Investigators added that the pattern of damage to the aircraft is consistent with being hit by large objects.
There were no technical engine or aircraft system malfunctions during the flight, nor were there any warnings of possible malfunction. Air traffic control never received a distress signal from Flight 17 before it crashed, and no evidence of human error was found.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, a territory that has been under siege by pro-Russian separatists. Just a day before the accident, a Russian warplane allegedly shot down an Ukrainian military jet over the Donetsk region. Despite the escalation of violence in the war-torn region, there were no restrictions on the Donetsk airspace for commercial flights.
The Dutch investigators, who were commissioned by the Ukrainian government to lead the probe, said a full report of the crash will be out in 2015. The investigation has been hindered because of the ongoing conflict in the Donetsk region, so investigators had to rely on images, cockpit data and air traffic control.
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