MH17 crash report: Dutch investigators confirm Buk missile hit plane - live updates

Last modified: 02: 04 PM GMT+0
  • Relatives shown early copy of Dutch Safety Board report
  • Shrapnel in the debris point to Buk missile strike
  • Animated simulation shows how plane came down
  • Read the latest summary

Here’s Luke Harding’s latest dispatch from the Gilze Rijen airbase.

With that we are going to bring this blog to a close.

Dutch investigators released this animation of what they conclude happened to flight MH17.

Cameron: report a step closer to the truth

Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron Photograph: Justin Tallis/PA

David Cameron said the report advances the search for truth about how MH17 was shot down.

In a statement the prime minister said:

“We have always been clear that justice must be done for all of the victims of MH17 and today’s report brings us one step closer to establishing the truth. We, alongside our partners, will continue to send a clear message; those responsible for downing this plane will be held to account.”


Claudio Villaca-Vanetta, whose husband Glenn Thomas, from Blackpool, died on board MH17, told BBC Radio 4’s World at One:

“We had some of the answers we were looking for today, but by far not all of them.

“We now know for sure that Malaysia Airlines was allowed to fly there, and we know now that it was a bad decision by Ukraine to leave the airspace open and that by just raising the cruise height it was safe for commercial airliners. We know there was a missile which is manufactured in Russia only.

“Of course, this doesn’t tell us who did it, who is accountable for it. That is where we want to get now.”

Mr Villaca-Vanetta said victims’ families had been told their loved ones would have died instantly or very quickly. But he added: “Even if it was the estimated nine seconds for somebody to lose consciousness, it is still a lot of time. For most families of victims, including myself, we went through counselling and this was maybe the hardest point to accept - the cruelty and the violence on bodies.”

Rob Fredriksz, whose son Bryce was killed on the flight MH17 says that those on board felt and knew nothing when they died.


In case there is still any doubt that Buk missile was used to shoot down MH17, Julian Borger picks out a section from Annex X of the report - an analysis of the high-energy objects that hit the plane conducted by the Dutch National Aerospace Laboratory.

“Based upon the damage examination it is concluded that the impact damage on the wreckage of flight MH17 is caused by a warhead with various types of preformed fragments in the 6-14 mm size range, including one type with a bowtie shape detonating to the left of, and above, the cockpit.”

“The damage observed on the wreckage is not consistent with the damage caused by the warhead of an air-to-air missile in use in the region in amount of damage, type of damage and type of fragments. The high-energy object damage on the wreckage of flight MH17 is therefore not caused by an air-to-air missile.”

“Of the investigated warheads only the 9N314M contains the unique bowtie shaped fragments found in the wreckage. The damage observed on the wreckage in amount of damage, type of damage, boundary and impact angles of damage, number and density of hits, size of penetrations and bowtie fragments found in the wreckage, is consistent with the damage caused by the 9N314M warhead used in the 9M38 and 9M38M1 BUK surface-to-air missile.”

Images from the final report into the investigation of MH17 crash which killed 298 people.
Images from the final report into the investigation of MH17 crash which killed 298 people. Photograph: Dutch Safety Board/PA


Julian Borger picks out more key passages from the report.

Missile shrapnel found in debris

The investigators collected pieces apparently from a surface-to-air missile. “In order to not risk impeding the criminal investigation, the Dutch Safety Board has decided not to publish images of all of the recovered fragments,” it says, but it does show three parts: an engine nozzle, part of one of the four stabiliser fins and a data cable. The report says: “The shape and form of the parts recovered is consistent with a 9M38 series surface-to-air missile.”

As a reference, the report shows pictures of a 9M38M1 missile, but in the text it just refers to the missile involved more vaguely as a ‘9M38 series’ missile.

Metal fragments bound in the bodies of crew members

120 objects (mostly metal graments) were found in the body of the First Officer, mostly in the left side of the upper torso.

More than 100 objects werre found in the body of the Purser. “Hundreds” of metal fragments were found in the fragmented body of the Captain

Explosive traces found

“Approximately 30 of the 126 swab samples showed traces of mainly two different explosives; the nitroamine RDX and the trinitrotoluene (TNT). A few of the 30 samples showed traces of PETN. On the tested missile part traces of RDX was found.”

Fragment analysis

“72 fragments that were similar in size, mass and shape were further investigated”

“43 of the 72 fragments were found to be made of unalloyed steel and four of these fragments, although heavily deformed and damaged, had distinctive shapes; cubic and in the form of a bow-tie.”

Victim found with emergency oxygen mask

“During the victim identification process in the Netherlands, one passenger was found with an emergency oxygen mask ... The strap was around the passenger’s neck and the mask was around the throat.”



Here’s a summary of the Dutch Safety Board account of the MH17 crash, and the reaction to its report.

The report discusses the difficulty in recovering the wreckage, writes Julian Borger. He picks out this passage:

“It should be noted that many pieces of the wreckage were not physically examined by the Dutch Safety Board until four months after the crash. During this period some parts were removed, therefore it was not possible to retrieve all wreckage pieces. Wherever possible, the photographs taken immediately after the crash were used in conjuction with the wreckage found.”

When investigators first arrived at the crash site, they photographed upper parts of the fuselage above the business class, which showed perforation and soot. But the report adds: “The upper parts of the fuselage above the business class were no longer present at the time of the recovery mission.”

Britain’s foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, has welcomed the report and called on those responsible to “held to account”.

Important findings in #MH17 report. Commend thorough Dutch Safety Board investigation. Those responsible must be held to account.

— Philip Hammond (@PHammondMP) October 13, 2015

Ukraine has repeated its accusation that Russian militants were behind the attack. Deputy prime minister Hennadiy Zubko said the attack was launched in territory controlled by Russian-backed rebels.

#MH17 was a planned terrorist act that occurred on Russian-militant-held territory – Vice PM Hennadiy Zubko

— The Bankova (@TheBankova) October 13, 2015

The missile that took #MH17 down was launched from terrorist-controlled Snizhne — Vice PM Zubko

— The Bankova (@TheBankova) October 13, 2015

The British Airline Pilots’ Association has called for clear No Fly Zone guidance to prevent a repeat of the MH17 tragedy.

Stephen Landells flight safety specialist at Balpa, said:

“Pilots want to make every flight safe and comfortable for passengers and need cast-iron information to ensure where they are flying is safe. Passengers and pilots want an open and uniform level of safety, not one that is decided in secret and in different ways by airlines and countries.

“The aviation community worldwide needs to work together to share information. We would like ICAO and the UN to use their influence to encourage all nation states to take advantage of this unique resource to ensure the safety of the travelling public worldwide.”

The report suggests that Russia had no justification in failing to produce radar data about the stricken flight, Julian Borger points out.

He picks out this passage.

“The Russian Federation did not provide the radar data stating that no radar data was saved, but instead provided the radar screen video replay, which showed combined surveillance primary and secondary radar. In the absence of the underlying radar data (so-called raw data), the video information could not be verified”

The report notes that “states are required to automatically record data from primary and secondary surveillance radar equipment systems for use in accident an dincident investigations, search and rescue, and air traffic control and surveillance systems evaluation and training. These recordings shall be retained for a period of at least thirty days, and fro accident and incident investigation for a longer period until it is evident that the recordings will no longer be required.”

The Russian Federal Air Transport Agency told the Dutch board that it didn’t save radar data because the incident happened outside Russian territory. The Dutch board said that Russia’s own official procedure “does not mention an exception to the requirement to store radar data when that data relates to an area outside the Russian Federation territory.”

The report includes a grim passage about whether passengers were conscious after the missile hit. It suggests that some were.

“The impact was entirely unexpected, which means that people were barely able to comprehend the situation in which they found themselves. There was hardly any time for a conscious response. The occupants were exposed to extreme factors almost immediately. Depending on variables such as the occupant’s location in the cabin at the moment of impact, the factors were not the same for all the occupants. A number of occupants immediately sustained severe injuries as result of the factors, probably causing death. For others, the exposure caused reduced awareness or unconsciousness within moments. It could not be ascertained at which exact moment occupants died, but it is certain that the impact on the ground was not survivable.

It is likely that occupants were barely able to comprehend their situation. in the course of the crash, the occupants were exposed to extreme factors.”

The Guardian’s diplomatic editor, Julian Borger, has been going through the full report. He says the discovery of “bow-tie shape fragments” in the debris was crucial in determining the precise model of warhead involved.

Julian picks out this passage of the report:

“The aeroplane was struck by a 9N314M warhead as carried on a 9M38-series missile and launched by a Buk surface-to-air missile system. This conclusion is based on the combination of the following: The recorded sound peak, the damage pattern found on the wreckage caused by the blast and the impact of the fragments, the bow-tie and cubic shaped fragments found in the cockpit and in the bodies of the crew members in the cockpit, the injuries sustained by three crew members in the cockpit, the analysis of the in-flight break-up, the analysis if the explosive residues and paint found and the size and distinct, bow-tie, shape of some of the fragments.”


Here’s a 20-page summary brochure of the report.

Brochure report investigation crash flight MH17

— Onderzoeksraad (@Onderzoeksraad) October 13, 2015

Russian versions have also been made available.

The DSB has released an animated video of how MH17 was shot down by Buk missile, with Russian subtitles.

It also put versions with Ukrainian subtitles, as well as Dutch and English versions.

Video investigation crash flight MH17 (Ukrainian subtitles) (± 20 minutes)

— Onderzoeksraad (@Onderzoeksraad) October 13, 2015

Here’s a full audio version of the English-part of the Joustra’s presentation.

The Russian government has challenged the finding that a Buk missile shot down the plane, Joustra confirmed. It said such a conclusion could not be made with certainty. But the DSB rejected Russia’s objections. Joustra said: “The DSB has extensively studied the comments provided by the Russian Federation,” Joustra said. Its response to Russia’s objections are spelled out in an appendix to the report, he said.

Joustra then wrapped up the press conference without taking questions.


Joustra says three crew members were killed in the cockpit when the Buk missile hit. He said the investigations ruled out a bomb on the plane, air-to-air strikes, meteor strikes or aircraft malfunction.

The “high-engergy” fragments from missiles were found in the bodies of crew members killed in the cockpit. Fragments found in the cockpit carried traces of paint linked to Buk missile warheads, another video explained.


Joustra said the recovery of the wreckage was a “complicated process”. Some debris was found only two weeks ago, and more may emerge, he conceded.

A video on the recovery of the wreckage. The first wreckage didn’t arrive in the Netherlands until December 2014, it said. Examination of the wreckage suggest a surface-to-air missile was responsible for bringing the plane down.

The reconstruction validated the investigation, the video said.

Flight height restrictions were imposed over Ukraine, but flights over the territory continued, including 160 after MH17 was shot down.

“Nobody gave a thought to a possible threat to civil aviation”, Joustra said.

He then introduced an animated video of MH17’s last moments.

It pointed out that three other aircraft were flying in the area when MH17 was hit by a Buk missile.

Joustra said “almost all operators” were flying over Ukraine because no one thought civil aircraft were at risk at cruising altitude. He said 160 flights travelled over eastern Ukraine after the crash.

Joustra said the airspace over Ukraine should have been closed. He said the Ukraine authorities failed to close the airspace.

“None of the parties involved recognised the risk from the armed conflict on the ground,” he said.

Joustra confirms that the MH17 was bought down by a Buk surface to air missile. The missile was launched from a 320km sq area, he said.

The plane broke up on impact scattering debris over a 50km sq area.

Tjibbe Joustra, Dutch Dafety Board chairman, has started to release the findings in Dutch. He is expected to give a statement in English soon.

Pieced-together wreckage unveiled

The press conference in Gitze-Rijen is about to get underway. The DSB has unveiled pieced together from wreckage MH17.

The wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is exhibited during a presentation of the final report on the cause of the its crash at the Gilze Rijen airbase October 13, 2015.
The wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is exhibited during a presentation of the final report on the cause of the its crash at the Gilze Rijen airbase October 13, 2015. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

The #MH17 reconstruction haunting: reassembled debris around a metal skeleton; white red blue livery of Malaysian airlines; shrapnel holes

— Luke Harding (@lukeharding1968) October 13, 2015

The force of the blast starkly revealed: holes perforate the upper port side of the cockpit. Pilots would have been killed immediately

— Luke Harding (@lukeharding1968) October 13, 2015

#MH17 reconstruction 20 metres long. Five windows from business class visible, plus pilots' seats, remounted in cockpit. Ghostly stuff

— Luke Harding (@lukeharding1968) October 13, 2015


Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, has held a telephone phone conversation with the Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte about the MH17 report.

Poroshenko’s office said he expressed condolences to the families of the victims.

Poroshenko emphasised that completion and publication of technical investigation was an important step towards bringing the perpetrators to justice.

The two leaders also discussed joint actions on how to bring those responsible to justice.

They agreed that final decision on such mechanism would be approved on the basis of the results of criminal investigation carried out jointly by Ukraine, the Netherlands, Australia, Malaysia and Belgium.

Провів телефонну розмову з Прем’єр-міністром Нідерландів Марком Рютте щодо розслідування #MH17

— Петро Порошенко (@poroshenko) October 13, 2015


The Dutch official heading the investigation has dismissed Russian attempts to divert attention from the official investigation, Luke Harding reports.

Tibbe Joustra, the chairman of the DSB, gave a sarcastic quip when asked about a press conference by Almaz-Antei, the Russian manufacturers of the Buk missile.

“It’s always special when people already know that they don’t agree with a report that’s not even published yet,” he told reporters.

Dutch safety board chairman Tjibbe Joustra says Moscow already dismissing his report, even though it's not published for another 30 mins

— Luke Harding (@lukeharding1968) October 13, 2015

"It's always special when people already know that they don't agree with a report that's not even published yet," Joustra said in the Hague

— Luke Harding (@lukeharding1968) October 13, 2015

Another relative has confirmed the central finding about a Buk missile striking the plane. AP reports:

The cousin of a woman killed on MH17 says that the official investigation concluded that a Buk missile downed the plane.

Robby Oehlers, whose cousin Daisy was among the 298 people killed says the conclusion was shared with family members at a meeting Tuesday,

He says, “It was a Buk.”

Oehlers said it was “as quiet as a mouse” as Dutch Safety Board chairman Tjibbe Joustra explained the conclusions of the 15-month investigation to family.

Relatives of the MH17 victims arrive at the World Forum in The Hague for a briefing by the Dutch Safety Board into the downing of the plane.
Relatives of the MH17 victims arrive at the World Forum in The Hague for a briefing by the Dutch Safety Board into the downing of the plane. Photograph: Alexander Schippers/EPA

First copies of the DSB report

Relatives have emerged from the pre-briefing in the Hague clutching the first copies of the eagerly-awaited report, the BBC’s Anna Holligan reports.

Claudio lost his husband Glenn - this is the first view of aviation report #MH17

— anna holligan (@annaholligan) October 13, 2015

First copies of #MH17 aviation report - hoping to share content soon #Ukraine

— anna holligan (@annaholligan) October 13, 2015

Sweeney said it was a comfort to the relatives that investigators concluded that death occurred quickly. He added: “We can’t be 100% sure [that nobody suffered on the flight] but we’ve got to sort of think that was the case.”

He said investigators concluded that the missile was fired from a 320km sq area.

Sweeney said the relatives would have to wait for the criminal report early next year to find out more about what happened.


'Buk missile hit cockpit first'

Barry Sweeney, whose son, Liam, was one of the victims has confirmed that the DSB concluded that MH17 was hit by a Buk missile.

Asked by BBC News what the report found he said: “Basically that the plane was hit be a Buk missile. I think the Russians have said it wasn’t a Buk, but through fragments they’ve found they reckon it was. It’s hit the cockpit first, killing all three in the cockpit. The cockpit then broke off probably creating confusion in the rest of the plane. Hopefully most people were unconscious by the time this happened.”


'Buk missile shrapnel found in bodies of crew'

Relatives of victims have confirmed that the DSB reports concluded that the MH17 was hit by a Russian-made Buk missile.

Speaking to reporters in the Hague after being shown early copies of the report, relatives also revealed that all the passengers died or lost consciousness as soon as the missile hit.

The BBC’s Anna Holligan, who is in the Hague, has been told that Buk missile shrapnel was found inside the bodies of some of crew members.

Shrapnel from Russian made BUK surface-to-air missile found inside crew - everyone lost consciousness instantly (Dutch Safety Board)

— anna holligan (@annaholligan) October 13, 2015

BREAKING #MH17 was hit by BUK missile. 0% chance people on board felt anything. DSB did not mention location missile was fired from #Ukraine

— anna holligan (@annaholligan) October 13, 2015

Almaz-Antei, the Russian defence conglomerate which makes Buk missiles has released video of ground-based experiments in which Buk missiles were fired at the front section of the plane.

Russia’s missile maker Almaz-Antey’s chief executive, Yan Novikov, attends a press conference to present the results of the companys investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
Russia’s missile maker Almaz-Antey’s chief executive, Yan Novikov, attends a press conference to present the results of the companys investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 Photograph: Vasily Maximov/AFP/Getty Images

Dutch media: 'DSB finds MH17 shot down by Buk missile'

The DSB has concluded that MH17 was shot down by a Russian-made Buk missile fired from rebel-held eastern Ukraine, according to the Dutch daily Volkskrant.

The paper quotes three sources close to the investigation. The report will also rejects Moscow’s contention the plane was hit by a missile fired by Ukrainian troops as it flew at about 33,000 feet above the territory, Volkskrant said.

Two sources told the Volkskrant “the Buk missile is developed and made in Russia”.

“It can be assumed that the rebels would not be able to operate such a device. I suspect the involvement of former Russian military officials,” one told the paper.

Rapport: MH17 definitief neergehaald door BUK-raket, aldus drie bronnen tegen de Volkskrant

— de Volkskrant (@volkskrant) October 13, 2015

Animated simulation to be released

Dutch investigators will release an animated simulation of what they think happened to MH17, Luke Harding reports from the Gilze-Rijen airbase, in the Netherlands where the report will be released in the next couple of hours.

There are no details but I expect this animation will show the Buk missiles hitting the plane and it then breaking up and its debris being scattered in a 10km sq area of eastern Ukraine.

The investigators are also planning to unveil a physical reconstruction of the aircraft. It’s going to quite theatrical.

The press conference will last 30 minutes with no questions. Journalists will then be taken in groups to the hanger where MH17 has been part-reconstructed. We’re expecting to see the front chunk: part of the cockpit and the business section. Relatives of MH17’s victims have already been briefed as to the report’s contents.

The Board will not make any finding of liability or blame Moscow or any other party. That’s the job of the Dutch criminal prosecutor’s office whose separate report is not now due until sometime in 2016.

Debris of the MH17 plane crash brought back from the crash site in eastern Ukraine is on display for friends and family of the flight’s victims at airbase Gilze-Rijen in Rijen.
Debris of the MH17 plane crash brought back from the crash site in eastern Ukraine is on display for friends and family of the flight’s victims at airbase Gilze-Rijen in Rijen. Photograph: Robin van Lonkhuijsen/EPA


Russian missile manufacturer Almaz-Antey releases its investigation into the MH17 crash.
Russian missile manufacturer Almaz-Antey releases its investigation into the MH17 crash. Photograph: Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters

Almaz-Antei, the defence conglomerate which makes Buk missiles has been holding a press conference to pre-empt the Dutch report and claim Ukraine was guilty of shooting down MH17, writes Shaun Walker in Moscow.

Hundreds of journalists – some of them who had been flown in from abroad by the organisers – arrived to a huge conference hall where big video screens had been set up and dramatic music was playing.

The manufacturer said it had performed two experiments which it says proves the missile could not have been launched from areas under pro-Russian separatist control.

Representatives of the defence concern said they had used the carcass of a decommissioned Ilyushin-86 aircraft, similar in shape to a Boeing 777, as they did not have any decommissioned Boeings. They also showed video of ground-based experiments in which Buk missiles were fired at the front section of the plane. Video showed the destruction of the plane from several angles.

A long presentation complete with seemingly endless graphs and equations was meant to show that MH17 was shot down by an old form of Buk missile not in use by the Russian army, and from a location that was under Ukrainian control at the time of the crash, near the village of Zaroshchenskoe. This would contradict all the eyewitness and photographic evidence of a Buk system present in rebel territory on the day of the crash.

After the presentation, the directors of Almaz-Antei took questions, initially from carefully selected Russian state media outlets, although after protests the floor was opened up a bit at the end. Yan Novikov, Almaz-Antei’s director, said he could not comment on photographs that appeared on the internet, and that all the modelling done by the company was mathematically accurate.

The Russian story has changed many times – initially Moscow suggested a Ukrainian fighter jet had shot down the plane; when it became clear the Dutch report would prove a Buk system had been involved, the story changed, with Almaz-Antei blaming a Ukrainian BUK. The timing of the press conference seemed designed to distract attention from the Dutch report and muddy the waters.

An order of service is held up before the funeral of Flight MH17 victim Liam Sweeney at St Mary’s Cathedral, Newcastle.
An order of service is held up before the funeral of Flight MH17 victim Liam Sweeney at St Mary’s Cathedral, Newcastle. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA

The father of a British man who was killed when MH17came down says he hopes the report will conclude that all of the passengers were killed as soon as the plane was hit.

Barry Sweeney’s son, Liam, was one of 298 on board the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed on 14 July last year. He was en route to watch Newcastle United play in a pre-season football tour in New Zealand.

Sweeney said: “I think what we are going to hear is that the plane was blown out of the sky, and hopefully everybody died instantly.”

Sweeney said he hoped none of the passengers survived the initial impact. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “I think once the missile hit the plane the decompression [would have meant] people were unconscious or dead within seconds. It’s a hard situation to comprehend.”

He said he was not frustrated by the length of the inquiry, which has been dogged by problems of investigators gaining access to the crash site. “It’s been a long time but I think the Dutch have had to be very meticulous – it is not something that they could do straight away,” Sweeney said.

What we know so far

AFP has put together a useful Q&A of what we know so far?

What happened to MH17?

The Malaysia Airlines jetliner broke up on a routine flight between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur over eastern Ukraine on 17 July, 2014, amid heavy fighting between Kiev’s army and pro-Russian separatists. All 298 passengers and crew died when the Boeing 777 flying at some 33,000 feet (10 kilometres) was blown from the sky. A preliminary report released in September 2014 said the aircraft was hit by numerous “high-energy objects” appearing to back claims that it was struck by a missile. In August, Dutch criminal investigators said they had found fragments “probably” from a Russian-made surface-to-air Buk missile at the crash site, but indicated it was not yet clear whether the apparent missile pieces were related to the attack.

Who has a Buk missile system?

Both Russian and Ukrainian armies possess the Buk missile system, according to Jane’s Defence Weekly editor Peter Felstead. Originally developed in the former Soviet Union, the Buk (Russian for “beech tree”) is a self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air missile capable of hitting targets as far away as 50km (30 miles) and as high as 25 km in altitude.

Who is to blame?

Western nations and defence analysts have blamed pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. US intelligence agencies blamed an SA11 missile in the days after the crash - using an alternative name for the Buk. US Secretary of State John Kerry said at the time it was “pretty clear that this is a system that was transferred from Russia in the hands of separatists”. Felstead of Jane’s Defence Weekly said the shooting was “a mistake” as the BUK’s operators “thought they had targeted a military aircraft in the area and it turned out to be an airliner”. The missile’s Russian state-controlled manufacturer Almaz-Antey said in June that based on photos of the wreckage, a Buk was likely to have been used to bring down MH17. But it said it was of the Buk-M1 variety, which had not been produced in Russia since 1999 but was in the arsenal of the Ukranian armed forces. Russia’s defence ministry has denied any involvement and like Almaz-Antey, pointed the finger at either a Ukrainian missile system, or another jet. However, citizen journalist website Bellingcat, which has investigated the crash using social networks and open source material, claims that the alleged Buk missile launcher was originally part of a convoy which had crossed into Ukraine in June from the southern Russian city of Kursk.

What happens now?

The final report is likely to make recommendations about commercial flights over conflict zones. Relatives of MH17’s victims say they hope the report’s release will keep up the pressure and lead to the eventual arrest and trial of the culprits. Dutch prosecutors, carrying out a separate criminal investigation, have identified many “persons of interest” in their probe but no definite suspects. Felstead believes it “unlikely that the culprits will ever be found and brought to justice” but has said the criminal probe must continue as it would “make a point”. Russia has vetoed a bid at the United Nations Security Council to set up an international tribunal to try those behind shooting down the plane.


Welcome to live updates on the release of a 15-month investigation into how 298 people were killed when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 came down over Ukraine.

The report by the Dutch Safety Board [DSB] will provide a technical account into how the plane crashed near Grabovo in Eastern Ukraine while en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

Flight path of MH17
Flight path of MH17

The DSB is expected to conclude that MH17 was hit by a Buk missile fired from a mobile launcher.

But the report will not deal with “blame and culpability”. For that we will have to wait for an investigation by Dutch prosecutors into who shot the down MH17.

Two-thirds of those on board were Dutch. The remaining passengers were from nine other countries, including 10 from Britain.

The DSB’s report comes after a 15-month investigation dogged by difficulties of accessing the crash site in the Ukraine.

It is widely assumed that Russian-backed separatists were responsible for bringing down MH17, but the US has stopped short of blaming Moscow directly. The Kremlin, meanwhile, has blamed Kiev. It has variously suggested a Ukrainian military jet shot down the Boeing, or that a missile was launched from a government-held area.

While today’s report will not apportion blame it is expected to offer some answers to other key questions about the incident. They include:

  • Why was MH17 allowed to fly over a war zone in eastern Ukraine at a time of fierce fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government troops?
  • Why did the Dutch authorities take up to four days to inform relatives of the death of passengers on board the flight, two-thirds of whom were Dutch?
  • Were any passengers still alive after the missile struck the plane?
  • Will the US government share satellite images of the moments leading up to the crash?

The report is due to be launched by at 1.15pm Dutch time (12.15 BST) by the chairman of the Dutch safety board, Tibbe Joustra. He will make a short statement in Dutch then switch to English.

The investigative website Bellingcat published its own MH17 dossier, based on a mass of open source evidence which strongly points to Russian involvement. It includes photos of a Buk taken by witnesses hours before MH17 was hit. One appears to show a vapour trail left by a missile.

Using photos posted by Russian soldiers on social media, Bellingcat tracked the Buk to the Kremlin’s 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade. The missile launcher set off in a military convoy from Kursk, inside Russia. It crossed the Ukrainian border and then travelled from Donetsk to the city of Snizhne. There it was unloaded and drove under its own power to a nearby field. Bellingcat alleges that, at approximately 4.20pm on 17 July, it launched the surface-to-air missile that struck MH17.

On the morning of the next day, the Buk was driven from Luhansk and smuggled back across the border to Russia. Bellingcat claims to have identified the crew involved, passing the information to Dutch prosecutors.



Matthew Weaver

The GuardianTramp

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279-page report rules out many possibilities and is precise on cause of crash naming warhead model

Julian Borger

13, Oct, 2015 @6:51 PM

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MH17 investigators to pinpoint missile launch in rebel-held Ukraine
Report expected to say Buk missile was fired from separatist-held area in Ukraine and its launcher smuggled back to Russia

Luke Harding

27, Sep, 2016 @2:00 PM

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Ukraine: missile that downed MH17 plane was not ours
Foreign minister denies missile that shot down Malaysia Airlines jet over east of country came from Ukrainian military

Shaun Walker in Kiev

18, Jul, 2014 @9:21 AM