Dutch Safety Board: Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 Downed by Russian-Made Buk Missile
On July 17, 2014, a Malaysia Airlines aircraft on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 298 souls on board was shot out of the sky over eastern Ukraine by what was suspected to be a surface-to-air missile.
Of the 298 people on board Flight MH17, 193 were Dutch. Once more, the loss of life suffered by the Dutch was disproportional to the population of that small country.
It was thus only appropriate that the Netherlands should lead the investigation into the disaster.
Today, after a 15-month inquiry, a Dutch Safety Board has concluded that the aircraft was probably struck by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile.
The findings — based in part on a distinctive shrapnel pattern that was found in the cockpit, near where the missile hit — come from a five-nation investigative team that retrieved and sifted through several tons of debris and human remains and even reconstructed the aircraft as part of its study.
“Flight MH17 crashed as a result of the detonation of a warhead outside the airplane above the left-hand side of the cockpit,” said Tjibbe Joustra, chairman of the Dutch Safety Board, using a common reference to the flight number. The explosion tore off the forward part of the plane, which broke up in the air. The crash killed all 298 people aboard; the investigation found that many died instantly, while others quickly lost consciousness. “It is likely that the occupants were barely able to comprehend their situation,” the board found.
While the findings stop short of assigning responsibility for the crash, a task that has been left to Dutch prosecutors, they appear consistent with a theory widely promoted by the authorities in the United States and Ukraine: that the plane, a Boeing 777, was shot down by Russian-backed separatists armed with an SA-11, or Buk, surface-to-air missile launcher.
Russia, which has disputed that theory all along, continues to do so “with a competing presentation, saying that the missile must have been fired from Ukrainian-held territory, and that it was of a type that is no longer found in Russia’s arsenal,” according to the Times.
The Dutch report is also critical of the Ukrainian authorities for failing to close the airspace above the conflict zone.
Please read more details about the investigation and the results here.
Today, the NATO Secretary General released the following statement on the investigation results:
I welcome today’s release of the Dutch Safety Board’s report into the tragic downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17.
I commend the Dutch Safety Board for conducting an independent, neutral and open investigation. Their report fulfils the objectives set out by the United Nations Security Council and the investigation was conducted in full accordance with the rules and procedures of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
This report contributes to provide answers to the many questions from the families of the victims.
The findings confirm that it was a Buk-missile which brought down the aircraft.
Those directly and indirectly responsible for the downing of MH17 should be held accountable and brought to justice as soon as possible.