Final report into downing of MH17 flight over Ukraine to be published


The final report into what caused the downing of flight MH17 over Ukraine in July last year will be released today.

A total of 298 people, including 10 Britons, were killed when the Malaysia Airlines Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur Boeing 777 was seemingly shot down over an area of eastern Ukraine where pro-Russian separatists operated.

The Dutch Safety Board (DSB) will release its final report into the cause of the crash today.

But it is likely to only give a partial explanation as to what happened, because itwill not deal with "blame or liability".

That is the responsibility of a separate criminal inquiry by the Dutch national prosecutor's office, which is still ongoing.

The DSB will focus on what caused the crash and the issue of flying over areas of conflict.

It will also examine why Dutch surviving relatives had to wait for up to four days for confirmation that their loved ones had died, and to what extent the passengers were conscious before the plane hit the ground.

The investigation was led by Holland because 196 of the victims were Dutch.

DSB chairman Tjibbe Joustra will inform the victims' relatives of the report at 10am (BST) in The Hague, before giving a presentation to the media at 12.15pm (BST) at Gilze-Rijen air base in southern Holland.

A reconstruction of the sections of the plane that were critical to the investigation will be unveiled at the base, where much of the wreckage was taken for examination by crash investigators.

Officials drew an outline of the Boeing 777 on the floor of a hangar and placed some of the corresponding pieces of wreckage on top. This included part of the cockpit, the business class section, an engine and parts of the left wing.

A preliminary report by the DSB in September last year said wreckage was ''consistent with the damage that would be expected from a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside''.

Despite the difficulty in accessing the site due to fighting in the area, the black box flight recorders were recovered early on and were passed to the DSB after being inspected at the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) headquarters at Farnborough in Hampshire.

In its preliminary report, the DSB said the black box information showed the MH17 flight proceeded normally until 1.20pm local time on July 17, 2014 after which all recordings "ended abruptly".

The DSB said pieces of wreckage were pierced in numerous places and that most likely there had been "an in-flight break-up".

The reconstruction of the plane echoed the work done by the AAIB which gathered wreckage from Pan Am flight 103 after it exploded over Lockerbie in December 1988 and painstakingly rebuilt part of the fuselage at Farnborough as part of its investigation.

The MH17 disaster followed on from the disappearance in March last year of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 237 passengers on board.