Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 shot down by Russian missile: Dutch Safety Board

Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was  brought down by a Russian-made Buk missile, the Dutch Safety Board said today.

The missile hit the front left of the plane which caused other parts to break off, it said in a final report into the July 2014 disaster, which killed 298 people (See: Malaysia Airlines plane crash kills 298).

According to the West and Ukraine, Russian-backed rebels brought down the Boeing 777, but according Russia says a missile was fired from territory controlled by Ukraine.

Without apportioning blame the report said the airspace should have been closed.

Investigators were not able to determine at which point the occupants died, the report said, adding that it was not able to rule out the possibility of some occupants being conscious during the one-and-a-half minutes it took for the plane to crash.

The flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur - crashed in rebel-held eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014 at the time of heightened conflict between government troops and the pro-Russian separatists.

The victims included 196 Dutch nationals and 10 UK citizens.

The findings were first presented to the victims' relatives, and the media was later briefed at the the Gilze-Rijen military base in the Netherlands.

The board is not authorised to apportion blame under rules governing international flight crash investigations, Fairfax and agencies reported.

The board had in September 2014, said the plane had been brought down by "high energy objects from outside the aircraft", presumably shrapnel.

The plane was shot down three months after hostilities broke out between Ukrainian forces and the separatists who are seeking independence from the pro-European government in Kiev.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said today he had no doubt the flight was shot down by Russian special forces as "drunken separatists" could not have operated the missile.

"In our opinion it was carried out solely from territory controlled by Russian fighters and there is no doubt that drunken separatists are not able to operate Buk systems and this means these systems were operated solely by professional Russian soldiers," Yatseniuk told a government meeting.

The criminal investigation into fixing responsibility for the tragedy was being separately conducted by an international Joint Investigation Team, including Australian federal police, who recently told Fairfax it may be another year before the case is ready for prosecution.

Rescue workers at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines' Flight MH17, shot down in eastern Ukraine, said they had found one of the black boxes, even as world leaders stepped up demands for an international investigation into the incident in which all 298 people on board were killed. (See: Black box of shot-down Malaysian airliner found).