A Malaysia Airlines passenger jet that went down over a war zone in eastern Ukraine in July was struck by “high-energy objects from outside the aircraft,” Dutch officials leading the investigation of the crash said in a preliminary report published on Tuesday.
The finding is consistent with theories that the jetliner was brought down by a missile designed to detonate before reaching its intended target, spraying it with sharp metal fragments.
The objects struck the cockpit and front fuselage of the eastbound plane, investigators for the Dutch Safety Board reported, strongly suggesting that they were fired from eastern Ukraine or western Russia. The investigators did not identify the source of the fragments that struck the aircraft or who was responsible for launching them.
“A full listening of the communications among the crew members in the cockpit recorded on the cockpit voice recorder revealed no signs of any technical faults or an emergency situation,” the summary said. “Neither were any warning tones heard in the cockpit that might have pointed to technical problems.”
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, when it was blown out of the sky on July 17 over territory controlled by pro-Russian rebels, killing all 298 people on board, of whom two-thirds were Dutch. The United States and Ukraine have accused the separatists of downing the plane with a powerful surface-to-air missile provided by the Russian military.