A preliminary report by the Dutch Safety Board into what caused the devastating crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 has confirmed what many already feared: the plane was downed by "a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside", causing it to explode in mid-air. All 298 passengers and crew aboard the flight were tragically killed.
The report doesn't go as far as attributing the cause of the crash to a missile launch, but the findings certainly point that way. Flying over war-torn rebel-held territory in Eastern Ukraine when it was destroyed on July 17th, many parties believe a surface-to-air missile fired by pro-Russia separatists caused the disaster. Russia denies any involvement, instead blaming local government forces for the crash.
"There are no indications that the MH17 crash was caused by a technical fault or by actions of the crew," says the Dutch Safety Board report, easing the pressure on the beleaguered Malaysia Airlines. Interestingly, the report details just how easily two other craft could instead have shared MH17's doomed fate -- air traffic controllers were directing two other craft in the vicinity at the time. MH17, likely due to weather conditions, couldn't comply with a request to reach a higher altitude, which could have put it out of range of whatever projectiles hit it. [Guardian]