The Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 which crashed in eastern Ukraine was brought down by a large number of high-energy projectiles hitting the outside of the plane, according to a Dutch report.
The report, by the Dutch Safety Board, is the first official investigation into the crash of the Boeing 777 on July 17 which killed all 298 people on board.
The penetration of the projectiles into the plane probably caused so much damage that it broke up in the air, the report says.
The report does not say whether the projectiles were the result of a rocket being fired from the ground and further investigation is needed to establish more precisely what caused the crash.
What is clear is that technical or human failure was not involved.
‘The pattern of damage in the front section and the cockpit does not conform to the damage expected as the result of any known disturbance to the plane, its engines or its systems,’ the report states.
These first conclusions on what caused the crash are based on satellite images, air traffic control reports, the plane’s voice and data recorders and radar images.
Because of the dangerous situation around the crash site, where pro-Russian rebels are fighting the Ukrainian army, the investigation team has been unable to visit the site.
Tuesday’s preliminary report is the first official account of what happened but does not attribute any blame and the final report is due out next year.
A criminal investigation is also underway into the crash but that is likely to take years to conclude, Dutch media say.
On Monday, the BBC said eyewitnesses claim Russians were operating a BUK missile launcher seen in the area where the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet went down.
Three eyewitnesses, all civilians, separately told the BBC’s Panorama current affairs programme they saw a missile-launcher in rebel-held territory a few hours before the Boeing jet was hit.
One eyewitness told the BBC he thought the crew were Russian soldiers ‘They had pure Russian accents. They say the letter ‘g’ differently to us,’ he said.
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