The crash of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 is being blamed on a missile. In July 2014, the passenger flight, which was en route to Kuala Lumpur, crashed under mysterious circumstances — killing nearly 300 passengers and crew. Following a 15-month investigation, the Dutch Safety Board concluded MH17 was indeed struck by a surface-to-air missile.
Malaysia Airlines flight 17 departed Amsterdam on July 17, 2014. Unfortunately, the plane never reached its intended destination. Authorities later confirmed the 777-200ER crashed in Donetsk Oblast near the Ukraine-Russia border. The devastating crash killed 283 passengers and 15 crew members.
As reported by CNN, the Dutch Safety Board immediately concluded the plane was struck with “high-energy objects.” However, the specific nature of the objects, or their origination, was unknown.
In an early press release, the safety board suggested the plane was intentionally hit with a surface-to-air missile, but they did not assign blame for the attack.
Malaysian airliner MH17 was destroyed by Buk missile fired from eastern Ukraine, Dutch safety board confirms http://t.co/G75LDcM7Nb
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) October 13, 2015
According to reports, the investigation into the tragedy was stalled because Dutch investigators were unable to safely access the crash site. MH17 went down in the eastern Ukraine, an area plagued with unrest.
In the weeks surrounding the crash, the region was engulfed in the Battle in Shakhtarsk, which was part of the ongoing War in Donbass. Initially, the Dutch Safety Board was forced to use photos of the site to investigate the cause of the crash. However, as reported by BBC News, pro-Russia rebels later agreed to allow a team of experts to access the crash site without interference.
— Mashable (@mashable) October 13, 2015
Although the investigation took 15 months to complete, the report was released on Tuesday. As reported by the New York Times, Dutch Safety Board Chairman Tjibbe Joustra announced the board’s findings.
“Flight MH17 crashed as a result of the detonation of a warhead outside the airplane above the left-hand side of the cockpit… The explosion tore off the forward part of the plane, which broke up in the air… the investigation found that many [passengers and crew members] died instantly… It is likely that the occupants were barely able to comprehend their situation.”
Although it is widely believed that Malaysia Airlines flight 17 was struck with an SA-11 or Buk missile, which was fired by pro-Russian insurgents, Russian officials have vehemently denied the accusations.
The Dutch Safety Board confirmed the plane was taken down by a surface-to-air missile. However, their report did not blame a specific party for firing the missile. It is also unclear whether the plane was specifically targeted or simply got caught in the crossfire.
The airspace above the crash site was eventually closed to prevent a similar tragedy in the future. However, the Dutch Safety Board reprimanded Ukrainian officials for allowing passenger planes to travel through the war-torn region amid a dangerous conflict.
Four months before the Malaysia Airlines flight 17 tragedy, another Malaysia Airlines flight vanished without a trace. On March 8, 2014, MH370 departed Kuala Lumpur for a flight to Beijing, China. Fewer than two hours later, the airline lost all contact with the plane.
As reported by the Guardian, authorities initially suspected the plane was compromised in an act of terrorism. However, after conducting extensive background checks on the passengers and crew, investigators concluded they did not have any ties to terrorist organizations.
Although there are numerous conspiracy theories, the Malaysian government officially declared the disappearance of MH370 as accidental on January 29, 2015. The government further announced that the 227 passengers and 12 crew members are presumed dead.
Six months later, debris found on a Réunion Island beach was confirmed to belong to the missing flight.
Authorities do not believe the crashes of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 and Malaysia Airlines flight 370 were related. However, more than 500 lives were lost in a period of seven months. The unusual circumstances surrounding both flights continue to fuel conspiracy theories about what really happened.
[Image via Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images]