Flight MH17 final crash report released: Dutch investigators confirm Malaysian Airlines plane was brought down by Buk missile

Catherine Neilan
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An image released by Dutch investigators last year

Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was brought down by a Russian-made Buk surface-to-air missile, Dutch investigators have confirmed.

Speaking at a press conference in Gitze-Rijen today, Tjibber Joustra, the Dutch Safety Board chairman, showed an animation of MH17's last moments. The missile hit the front left hand side of the plane - the cockpit - killing three crew members instantly.

On-plane microphones recorded a "ping" noise the moment of the explosion. The plane was destroyed on impact, scattering debris across a 50 square kilometre area.

Investigators believe that the victims would have lost consciousness almost immediately.

In August, investigators said they had found fragments of a Russian Buk missile near to the crash site. Last autumn, during a preliminary stage announcement, they said the plane had been pierced by "high energy objects" from outside the plane.

Today, Joustra said fragments from the missile had been found in the bodies of the crew members killed in the cockpit.

Image released by Dutch investigators last year

Joustra said Ukrainian authorities had failed to close airspace, meaning "almost all operators" were flying across the country because civil aircraft was not thought to be at risk. Height restrictions had been imposed, but there was no ban in place.

"Nobody gave a thought to a possible threat to civil aviation," said Joustra. A further 160 aircraft flew over the eastern part of the country after the crash, he added.

The press conference came after relatives of the 298 victims who died in the 2014 tragedy were given early sight of the final report.

Joustra said Russia's government had challenged the findings, saying fighters in that part of Ukraine did not have access to Buk systems at the time of the crash.

The Dutch investigators have not apportioned blame to a particular group or faction.

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