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MH17 pierced by ‘objects’

A Malaysia Airlines jet carrying 298 people was blown apart by “a large number of high energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from the outside,” investigators say in the first official report on the tragedy.

In the preliminary report into the MH17 disaster, the Dutch Air Safety Board (OVV) said the plane broke up in the air as the result of structural damage caused by the objects.

The report said there were no indications that the disaster was caused by a technical fault or by the actions of the crew.

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In a statement, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the explanation was consistent with a surface-to-air missile.

“The findings are consistent with the Government’s statement that MH17 was shot down by a large surface-to-air missile,” the statement said.

More research will be necessary, the investigators said, to determine the cause with greater precision.

The report included details gathered from the cockpit voice recorder, the flight data recorder, satellite images and photographs, as well as radar information.

Tributes are placed in memory of the victims of flight MH17.

Tributes are placed in memory of the victims

No blame

Earlier, an OVV spokeswoman Sara Vernooij warned the report would not place blame.

“We investigate the cause of the accident and not who’s responsible,” Ms Vernooij said.

But Ukraine authorities and West have accused pro-Russian separatists of shooting down the plane with a surface-to-air missile supplied by Moscow. Russia has blamed Ukraine government forces for the attack.

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 exploded over eastern Ukraine en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, killing all on board including 38 Australians.

‘Abrupt end’ to flight

The report said the fact the plane was hit by high-speed objects “explains the abrupt end to data registration on the recorders, the simultaneous loss of contact with air traffic control and the aircraft’s disappearance from radar”.

“The replay of the cockpit voice recorder matched the air traffic control communications with the aircraft. The recording also included crew communication which gave no indication that there was anything abnormal with the flight.”

Flight MH17 came down on July 17, killing all on board including 38 Australians. So far 193 victims of flight MH17 have been identified. On Tuesday the bodies of two more Malaysian victims arrived in Kuala Lumpur on a Malaysia Airlines chartered flight.

Family members of the victims and government dignitaries attended a special ceremony in their honour.

12-year-old Mo, 8-year-old Otis and 10-year-old Maslin were killed in the crash.

12-year-old Mo, 8-year-old Otis and 10-year-old Evie Maslin were killed in the crash.

There were 43 Malaysians on board flight MH17. The remains of 20 passengers and 14 crew have been identified.

Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak said he hoped investigators could return to the crash site in eastern Ukraine before the onset of European winter.

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

Shortly after the crash forensic experts travelled to the site to collect body parts, but that mission was suspended due to heavy fighting in the area.

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

A full report from the investigation is not expected until the middle of next year.

-with AAP, ABC

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