MH17: “The aircraft split into pieces during flight”
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch team investigating the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Eastern Ukraine says the crash was likely caused by the plane being hit by multiple “high-energy objects from outside the aircraft.”
“The pattern of wreckage on the ground suggests that the aircraft split into pieces during flight (an in-flight break up),” concluded the investigators.
The preliminary report published Tuesday by the Dutch Safety Board stopped short of saying the Boeing 777 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile, but its findings appear to point to that conclusion.
While it was the first official confirmation from investigators about the nature of the suspected mid-air impact suffered by the jet, CBS News’ Mark Phillips first reported weeks ago that the fuselage showed clear markings indicating penetration from outside the plane by innumerable small objects — strongly bolstering the notion of an attack with a sophisticated surface-to-air missile (SAM).
The Boeing 777 was blown out of the sky July 17 over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers and crew on board.
The United States government has concluded unofficially that a SAM — probably a Russian-made “BUK,” or SA11 missile — brought the jet down, likely fired by pro-Russian rebels fighting government forces in eastern Ukraine.
U.S. intelligence agencies believe the pro-Russian separatists might have downed Flight 17 believing it was a Ukrainian military aircraft.