After a thorough investigation, the Dutch Safety Board has concluded that a Russian-made surface-to-air missile took down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.
The board’s chairman, Tjibbe Joustra, explained their findings at a press conference Tuesday:
Giving what was the most detailed description of the jet's final moments to date, Joustra said the explosion killed the plane's three crew members in the cockpit and that investigators had found "high energy fragments" in their bodies.
The blast — less than one yard from the plane's fuselage — also caused "structural damage," which resulted in the jet's "forward part" tearing off. The plane broke up in midair and scattered over a 20-square-mile area, he said.
The safety board criticized Ukrainian authorities for failing to close the airspace, since it was over a conflict zone.
Russia has denied involvement in the tragedy and Almaz-Antey, the company behind the missile in question, disputed the board’s claims with their own report:
Speaking at a news conference before the Dutch report's release, the firm's head Yan Novikov said: “We have proven with our experiments that the theory about the missile flying from Snizhne is false." He said evidence shows that if the plane was hit by a Buk, it was fired from the village of Zaroshenske, which Russia says was under Ukrainian government control at the time.
Two hundred and ninety-eight people were on board. Their families are still searching for answers.
You can read the Dutch Safety Board’s full report here.