'Multiple objects' hit doomed flight MH17
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was likely struck by multiple "high-energy objects from outside the aircraft", causing it to break up over eastern Ukraine, a preliminary report into the deadly aviation disaster concluded.
The report by the Dutch Safety Board stopped short of saying the Boeing 777 was shot down by a missile but its findings point to that conclusion. It also did not say who might have been responsible.
The Boeing 777 suddenly plunged out of the sky on July 17 over territory held by pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers and crew on board.
"The damage observed in the forward section of the aircraft appears to indicate that the aircraft was penetrated by a large number of high-energy objects from outside the aircraft," the report said. "It is likely that this damage resulted in a loss of structural integrity of the aircraft, leading to an in-flight break-up."
"The initial results of the investigation point toward an external cause of the MH17 crash," the board's chairman, Tjibbe Joustra, said in a statement. "More research will be necessary to determine the cause with greater precision."
Christopher Yates, an aviation safety specialist at Yates Consulting, said the report "is extremely consistent with damage from a missile for the simple reason there are penetration marks".