In July 2014, flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed over the Ukraine. Today, the Dutch Safety Board has issued its report on what happened.
At a press conference, the chairman of the Dutch Safety Board, Tjibbe Joustra, has explained that “it was definitely a BUK missile that hit flight MH17,” writes the BBC. The missile is said to have hit the front section of the plane from the left, and their analysis suggests that the missile was launched from “somewhere in an area of 320 sq km in Eastern Ukraine.”
The BUK missile is a self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air weapon, originally developed by the Soviet Union and then Russia. It was originally developed to defend against cruise missiles, smart bombs and aircraft. This video, released by the Dutch Safety Board, shows what it believes happened during the attack.
Preliminary reports had already suggested that “high-energy objects” had caused the airplane to explode. The report rules out an air-to-air attack, which pro-Russia rebels had suggested was the cause of the crash. Further forensic investigations are expected to determine the launch location with more accuracy.
Sadly, the report explains that it “cannot be ruled out that some occupants remained conscious for some time during the one to one-and-a-half minutes for which the crash lasted”.
The Safety Board notes that while lower levels of Ukrainian airspace were restricted, flight MH17 was flying in a higher section of air space that was left open. The BBC reports that the Dutch Safety Board believes “there was sufficient reason to close airspace above eastern Ukraine as a precaution at the time.” Part of that reason was that 16 military airplanes and helicopters had been shot down in the weeks before the MH17 crash. However, Ukrainian authorities did not do so.
The BBC explains that one of the final conclusions of the report, delivered by Joustra at the end of his presentation, is “that states involved in civil conflict must do more to protect civil aviation.” The Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, believes that “tracing and prosecuting the perpetrators” is now vital.
Ned Price from the US National Security Council has explained that “the United States will fully support all efforts to bring to justice those responsible. Our assessment is unchanged - MH17 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile fired from separatist-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine.”
Meanwhile, the BBC reports that Eduard Basurin, the deputy defence minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine, “has insisted that separatists did not have a Buk missile system at the time MH17 was shot down, Russia’s Tass news agency reports.”
Families of the victims received advance copies of the report this morning, ahead of its release to the public.
You can read the full report here.
Image by AP