The Hague: Dutch authorities on Tuesday released the findings of their probe into the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash over the conflict-hit region of eastern Ukraine in July 2014, in which all 298 people on board were killed.
Dutch Safety Board (DSB) chairman Tjibbe Joustra confirmed that the MH17 was brought down by a Buk surface-to-air missile. The missile was launched from a 320 km.sq. area. The plane broke up on impact scattering debris over a 50 km.sq. area, The Guardian reported.
The DSB first presented its findings to the victims' families and then to the media at the Gilze-Rijen military base in the Netherlands.
Joustra said the cockpit was hit first with the three crew members killed immediately on impact. He said the investigations ruled out a bomb on the plane, air-to-air strikes, or meteor strike.
The “high-energy” fragments from missiles were found in the bodies of crew members killed in the cockpit. Fragments found in the cockpit carried traces of paint linked to Buk missile warheads.
The chairman said the airspace over Ukraine should have been closed which the Ukrainian authorities failed to do.
“None of the parties involved recognised the risk from the armed conflict on the ground,” he said.
Joustra said “almost all operators” were flying over Ukraine because no one thought commercial aircraft were at risk at cruising altitude. He said 160 flights travelled over eastern Ukraine after the crash.
He also presented an animated video of MH17’s last moments. It pointed out that three other aircraft were flying in the area when MH17 was hit by the missile.
Joustra said the recovery of the wreckage was a “complicated process”. Some debris was found only two weeks ago, and more may emerge, he conceded.
The DSB also unveiled a pieced-together version of the wrecked MH17.
Speaking to reporters in the Hague after being shown early copies of the report, relatives revealed that all the passengers died or lost consciousness as soon as the missile hit the aircraft.
The flight was en route from Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur and was travelling over the conflict-hit Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014 when it came down. Those killed in the crash comprised 283 passengers - of which 80 were children - and 15 crew members.