A Malaysian passenger jet blew up in mid-air over eastern Ukraine after being hit by numerous “high speed objects,” according to an interim report published Tuesday into the disaster that claimed 298 lives.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 “broke up in the air probably as the result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside,” said a highly anticipated report by the Dutch Safety Board.
The findings appear to back up claims that the Boeing 777, which crashed in July as it was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was hit by shrapnel from a missile.
“There are no indications that the MH17 crash was caused by a technical fault or by actions of the crew,” the report said.
Kiev and the West have accused pro-Russian separatists of shooting down the plane with a surface-to-air BUK missile supplied by Moscow.
But Russia, which denies mounting Western claims of direct involvement in the five-month conflict in Ukraine, blamed government forces for the attack.
The MH17 disaster was the second tragedy for Malaysia Airlines after the mysterious disappearance of flight MH370 in March, and threw the global spotlight back on the bloody uprising in eastern Ukraine.
The majority of people on board were Dutch citizens.
The report was issued just a day after the EU announced it was adopting new sanctions on Russia over its role in the conflict in its western neighbour that has killed over 3,000 people including the MH17 victims.
Dutch investigators have been unable to visit the rebel-controlled site in the Donetsk region because of the fighting, and have relied on information from Ukrainian crash specialists for information from the scene.