Dutch aviation experts say Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 probably crashed in eastern Ukraine after being hit by a large number of “high-energy objects”.
Their initial findings say the plane broke up in the air after its fuselage was penetrated from outside.
The preliminary report by the Dutch Safety Board adds there are no signs the crash was caused by technical problems or the crew’s actions.
Nearly 300 people died when the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed over rebel-held territory in Ukraine in July.
“We will of course try to determine what those objects are (that hit the plane). A number of parts have been found near bodies, those of the crew in particular, a number of metal objects which we are now investigating,” said Tjibbe Joustra, Chairman of the Dutch Safety Board.
The report does not expressly say the plane was shot down.
But Malaysia, which lost 43 people in the disaster, has seized on the report’s findings that there was no evidence anything was wrong with the aircraft.
“It is imperative that we protect the integrity of the crash site, and allow the investigation to proceed,” said Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai. “I call upon the international community and all those involved in the Ukraine conflict to seek justice and find the perpetrators who caused this brutal act of aggression.”
It was Malaysia Airlines’ second disaster this year following the disappearance of flight MH370.
The report into the MH17 crash is based on technical evidence: black box and air traffic control recordings, satellite and other photos.
Investigators, who have not visited the crash site for safety reasons due to fighting in the area, say they are looking into the causes of the crash, not who was responsible.
They hope to publish their full report by next July.