Thursday 29 September 2016

MH17: Dutch Safety Board confirms Buk missile fired downed flight killing 298 people

*Russian missile company blow up plane to 'debunk' official report into air disaster

Independent.ie Newsdesk & Roland Oliphant

Published 13/10/2015 | 11:45

The reconstructed wreckage of the MH17 airplane is seen after the presentation of the final report into the crash of July 2014 of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine REUTERS/Michael Kooren
The reconstructed wreckage of the MH17 airplane is seen after the presentation of the final report into the crash of July 2014 of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine REUTERS/Michael Kooren
The wreckage of the MH17 airplane is seen after the presentation of the final report into the crash of July 2014 of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine REUTERS/Michael Kooren
A Malaysia Airlines crew member places a flower next to candles forming the letters MH17. (AP)

The Dutch Safety Board has confirmed that a Buk missile fired from a surface-to-air system downed flight MH17.

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The safety board’s report, which follows a 15 month investigation involving several countries, concluded that a Russian-made missile did indeed shoot down MH17.

The final report was officially unveiled at 12.15pm BST on Tuesday at a Dutch military base.

Malaysian airlines flight 17 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpa when it was destroyed over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people on board.

A journalist takes a picture of a piece of wreckage of the MH17 airplane after the presentation of the final report into the crash of July 2014 of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine REUTERS/Michael Kooren
A journalist takes a picture of a piece of wreckage of the MH17 airplane after the presentation of the final report into the crash of July 2014 of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine REUTERS/Michael Kooren
Wreckage of the MH17 airplane is seen after the presentation of the final report into the crash of July 2014 of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine, in Gilze Rijen, the Netherland REUTERS/Michael Kooren
Wreckage of the MH17 airplane is seen after the presentation of the final report into the crash of July 2014 of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine REUTERS/Michael Kooren
Wreckage of the MH17 airplane is seen after the presentation of the final report into the crash of July 2014 of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine REUTERS/Michael Kooren

Read more here: Vladimir Putin should speak to families of MH17 victims, says grieving relative  

Quoting three sources close to the investigation, the respected Volkskrant daily said the inquiry had found the plane was hit by a BUK surface-to-air missile on July 17.

The report contains maps of the crash site, where the wreckage was strewn across fields close to the Ukrainian village of Grabove, in the war-torn area of Donetsk controlled by the pro-Russian separatists.

It has identified the area from which, it said, the missile that downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was launched.

Though it declined to comment further on the exact launch site, all the territory within the 320 square kilometre area it identified was in rebel hands at the time of the July 2014 crash.

It rejects Moscow's contention that the plane was hit by a missile fired by Ukrainian troops as it flew at some 33,000 feet above the territory, Volkskrant said.

Two sources told the Volkskrant that "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.

A Malaysian expert (C) examines a black box belonging to Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 during its handover from pro-Russian separatists, in Donetsk
A Malaysian expert (C) examines a black box belonging to Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 during its handover from pro-Russian separatists, in Donetsk
A Malaysian expert (L) examines a black box belonging to Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 during its handover from pro-Russian separatists, in Donetsk
Members of the media take pictures as a pro-Russian separatist places black boxes belonging to Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on a desk, before their handover to Malaysian representatives, in Donetsk
A satellite image shows the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine
Portraits of (L-R) Jenny Loh, her mother Tan Siew Poh and Popo Fan, who were victims of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 plane crash, are seen as a man lays flowers during a silent march held in their memory outside the restaurant, which Loh and Fan owned, in Rotterdam
Parts of the wreckage are seen at a crash site of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), Donetsk region
A passenger carriage with the word "Donbass", part of the train carrying the remains of victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17 downed over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine
Journalists work after a train carrying the remains of victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17 downed over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine arrived in the city of Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine
A train carrying the remains of the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17 downed over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine arrives in the city of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine
Protesters chant slogans demanding justice for the victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 as they follow the lead of organisers of a rally held by UMNO's youth wing outside the Russian embassy in Kuala Lumpur
Members of the youth wing of UMNO, Malaysia's largest political party, wave placards at a demonstration demanding justice for the victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 outside the Ukrainian embassy in Kuala Lumpur
A guard stands on a train carrying the remains of victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17 downed over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine after it arrived in the city of Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine
In this image taken from video, Thursday July 17, 2014, showing part of the wreckage of a passenger plane carrying 295 people after it was shot down Thursday as it flew over Ukraine, near the village of Hrabove, in eastern Ukraine. AP Photo / Channel 1
In this image taken from video, Thursday July 17, 2014, showing flames rising from part of the wreckage of a passenger plane carrying 295 people after it was shot down Thursday as it flew over Ukraine, near the village of Hrabove, in eastern Ukraine. AP Photo / Channel 1
In this image taken from video, Thursday July 17, 2014, showing part of the wreckage of a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday as it flew over the country and plumes of black smoke rose up near a rebel-held village Hrabove, in eastern Ukraine. AP Photo / Channel 1
In this image taken from video, Thursday July 17, 2014, people walk amongst the debris at the crash site after a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday as it flew over Ukraine, near the village of Hrabove, in eastern Ukraine. AP Photo / Channel 1
A picture taken of Malaysia MH17 as it took off from Schipol Airport shortly before it was shot down over Ukraine
Smoke rises rises from the crash site of Malaysia MH17 shortly after it was believed to have been shot down over Ukraine
Armed pro-Russian separatists stand near the crash site of Malaysia MH17
Wreckage from Malaysia MH17 near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region of Ukraine
An armed pro-Russian separatist stands the Malaysia MH17 crash site
A part of the fuselage of Malaysia MH17 can be seen in a field at the crash site in Ukraine
A map of the region where flight MH17 crashed in Ukraine
A woman reacts to news regarding a Malaysia MH17 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang
Emergency workers at the crash site of Malaysia MH17 in Ukraine
An emergency worker puts fires out at the Malaysia MH17 crash site
An armed pro-Russian separatist takes pictures at the crash site of Malaysia MH17
Emergency workers at the Malaysia MH17 crash site
Wreckage from Malaysia flight MH17 strewn across the crash site
Wreckage of Malaysia MH17 at the crash site in Ukraine
The arrivals screen in Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang showing Malaysia MH17
Smoke rises from the debris of Malaysia MH17 at the crash site in Ukraine
Fires burn as night falls on the crash site of Malaysia MH17 in Ukraine

Earlier, Almaz Antey, the Russian company that produces Buk anti-aircraft missiles, denounced the official Dutch investigation, hours before it was released.

Read more: MH17 Anniversary: ‘Sickening’ video shows pro-Russian rebels ransacking victims' luggage

The claims follow the experimental destruction of a retired airliner using a Buk missile warhead which the company carried out earlier this month.

Almaz Antey said that it blew up a Buk warhead next to the cockpit of an Ilyushin 86 airliner in an experiment conducted on October 7.

The company claimed at a press conference in Moscow that the results of its experiment showed the missile used was an older model of Buk missile no longer used by Russia, and that it was launched from near a village called Zarochenske, south-west of the crash site.

The presentation seems designed to cast doubt that the missile that destroyed MH17 was fired from near Snizhne, in separatist-held territory south east of the crash site in Ukraine.

"The results of our experiment contradict the Dutch report," said Yan Novikov, the general director of the company. "It can now be clearly said that if a rocket was used it was a Buk 9M38, not a Buk 9M38M1, fired from the area of Zaroshchensk.

"The only thing that we do not yet understand are why fragments of 9M38m1 are amongst the evidence."

 

Officials from the Donetsk People’s Republic, which controls the area where the Boeing 777 crashed, strongly deny any involvement in the disaster and say they had no technology capable of downing an airliner.

Russian officials have also questioned the account, and have suggested the aircraft was shot down by a Ukrainian fighter jet.

Independent investigations, including by this newspaper, suggest Russian-backed forces fired a Buk SA-11 missile at MH17 from a position about 12 miles southeast of the crash site.

In June this year Almaz Antey, the Russian defence firm that produces Buk missiles, presented a damage analysis report that argued the missile involved had been fired from another location, to the south of the crash site, which Russian officials have claimed was controlled by Ukrainian forces.

Read more: Downed flight MH17 was one of 160 passenger planes over eastern Ukraine

The company also argued that fragments found in the wreckage came from an older model of BUK that is no longer used by the Russian armed forces but is in Ukraine’s arsenal.

Dutch-led joint criminal investigations, which includes detectives from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, and Ukraine, is expected to submit its final report sometime next year.

In July Russia vetoed the creation of an international tribunal in which try suspects named in the criminal report, citing concerns about the investigation’s impartiality.

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