13/10/2015 10:45 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:50 PM AEST

MH17 Ukraine Disaster: Russian Missile To Blame

EMMANUEL DUNAND via Getty Images
Dutch Safety Board Chairman Tjibbe Joustra speaks in front of the wrecked cockpit of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 exhibited during a presentation of the final report on the cause of the its crash at the Gilze Rijen airbase October 13, 2015. Air crash investigators have concluded that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a missile fired from rebel-held eastern Ukraine, sources close to the inquiry said today, triggering a swift Russian denial. The findings are likely to exacerbate the tensions between Russia and the West, as ties have strained over the Ukraine conflict and Moscow's entry into the Syrian war. AFP PHOTO / EMMANUEL DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

The crew of downed flight MH17 likely died first, while passengers may have been aware of the impact for moments before losing consciousness an official report has found, while ruling a Russian-made missile was responsible.

The families of those killed on board MH17 have waited 14 long months to learn about the final moments of the Malaysian Airlines flight before the disaster that claimed the lives of all 298 passengers, including 41 Australians.

The Dutch Safety Board (DSB) found that the passengers would most likely have lost consciousness immediately, before the Boeing 777 crashed into a Ukranian field.

"We just wanted to know nobody suffered on that flight" Barry Sweeney who lost his son Liam told the BBC.

"We can't be one hundred per cent sure, but we've got to think that was the case".

The official investigation concluded the Boeing 777 was hit by a missile on the left-hand side of the cockpit.

“Flight MH17 crashed as a result of the detonation of a warhead outside the airplane...This warhead fits the kind of missile that is installed in the BUK surface-to-air missile system,” said DSB chairman Tjibbe Joustra.

The probe will not apportion blame.

MH 17 was en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam when it crashed in rebel-held eastern Ukraine in July 2014, as pro-Russian separatists battled government troops.

" At 32,000 feet above the conflict no-one considered civil aircraft at cruising altitude was at risk".

The probe found 160 flights operated above the airspace, up until the moment MH 17 was struck. Joustra told reporters in The Netherlands that Ukraine failed to close the airspace, and the individual airlines failed to recognise the danger from below.

As expected, the report confirmed today that the conflict held up the recovery mission and investigation. Surviving relatives had to wait for up to four days for Dutch authorities to confirm their loved ones had been on the plane.

The crew aboard MH17 crew died first. Three crew members were killed in the cockpit when the Buk missile hit. Fragments of the missile were found in their bodies, and contained traces of paint consistent with the paint on a Buk missile.

Among the Australians killed were a teacher, a Catholic nun, a real estate agent, doctors, a businessman and his three young grandchildren.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was briefed on the DSB's findings via teleconference by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims," Mr Turnbull said in a statement.

"I know this is a particularly distressing time for those who lost loved ones on board MH17."

Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop acknowledged that the criminal investigation is ongoing.

"We, and other partner governments of the Joint Investigation Team, remain absolutely committed to seeing justice done, following Russia's disappointing veto of the widely supported proposal for a UN Security Council mandated international tribunal," she said.


The DSB’s report comes after a 15-month investigation dogged by difficulties of accessing the crash site in the Ukraine.

Both the West and Ukraine have laid the blame on Russian-backed rebels, while Russia has blamed the Ukraine. On Monday a Russian government official said the Dutch investigators had not been co-operating with Russian experts.

"A series of facts (about the shooting down) that were presented by Russia seem have not been taken into consideration - for reasons that we do not understand," said Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin.

The Russian manufacture of the BUK ground-to-air missile system is expected to release its own report October 13.

A separate Dutch-led criminal investigation is still going on, and its findings are expected to be published in several months' time.

The Victorian Coroners Court is expected to hold a brief inquest for the Victorian victims, possibly in December 2015.