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Who or what downed MH17? Investigators to release crash report

The West has blamed the pro-Russia rebels, Russia has blamed Ukraine, but the investigators will now give their opinion.

A convoy of hearses bearing the remains of passengers and crew killed in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 makes its way along a highway near Boxtel, Netherlands.
A convoy of hearses bearing the remains of passengers and crew killed in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 makes its way along a highway near Boxtel, Netherlands.
Image: AP Photo/Phil Nijhui

A HIGHLY ANTICIPATED preliminary report into what brought down Malaysia flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine will be released this morning, hoping to shed light on the air disaster that claimed the lives of 298 passengers.

The air crash team led by investigators from the Netherlands will release its report at 0800 GMT on the website of the Dutch Safety Board (OVV).

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 exploded over eastern Ukraine en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, killing all on board including 193 Dutch citizens.

The West has accused Russian-backed separatists of shooting down the plane with a Moscow-supplied surface-to-air missile. Russia has blamed Ukrainian forces.

Dutch investigators have been unable to visit the site in the war-torn Donetsk region due to the continued fighting and have relied on information from Ukrainian crash specialists from the scene.

Ukraine Plane Pilots This file photo shows investigators examining a piece of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 plane crash in Donetsk, Ukraine. Source: AP/Press Association Images

OVV spokeswoman Sara Vernooij told AFP: “It is certainly possible to draw meaningful conclusions without having been to the scene.”

However, the OVV has stressed the report will not affix blame.

Investigators are expected to make findings based on information from the aircraft’s black boxes, and pictures and video taken at the scene, as well as information supplied by Ukranian air traffic control.

The black boxes have been shipped to Farnborough in Britain to be examined by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

The OVV said the preliminary findings will be “factual information based on sources available to the OVV.”

A full report is not expected until mid-2015, it added.

Vernooij told AFP:

We investigate the cause of the accident and not who’s responsible.

Shortly after the crash forensic experts travelled to the site to collect body parts, but that search has also been suspended due to heavy fighting in the area.

So far 193 victims of flight MH17 have been identified.

Meanwhile, Ukraine on Monday accused pro-Russian rebels of waging fresh attacks in the east putting a fragile truce backed by Kiev and Moscow in peril.

It is hoped that air crash investigators will be able to return to the site if the ceasefire holds, but analysts said it was too early yet to make an assessment on the team’s security.

© AFP 2014

Read: Malaysia Airlines to fire 6,000 workers and set up new company >

More: 21 more MH17 victims identified as investigators leave crash site >

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