Insight and foresight from the global frontlines

MH17 black box indicates a missile destroyed the Boeing 777

The flight data recorder from MH17 indicates a 'massive explosive decompression' occurred, consistent with a missile strike on the passenger aircraft, reports CBS News.

REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
Wreckage at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), Donetsk region July 26, 2014. Fighting prevented investigators from reaching the site Sunday.

The flight data recorder, one of two "black boxes" retrieved from the crash site of Malaysia Airways Flight 17, indicates that the commercial airliner was brought down by a missile.

"It did what it was designed to do," a European air safety official told CBS News, "bring down airplanes."

The official described the finding as "massive explosive decompression."

This would be the latest evidence that is consistent with what US, Ukrainian, and European officials have said. Britain's Foreign Office issued this statement on Saturday: "Given the large and growing body of credible evidence, without compelling information to the contrary, we believe it is highly likely that that flight MH17 was shot down by the Russian SA-11 surface to air missile system, operating from within a Russian-backed separatist area in eastern Ukraine."

Russian officials and state media have spun a series of possible alternative theories, including that MH17 was full of already dead bodies and that Ukrainian air force fighters shot the plane down in a bungled attempt to assassinate President Vladimir Putin. There has been little or no evidence to support these theories.

Fierce fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels on Sunday near the crash site forced international investigators to abandon efforts to find the truth behind the demise of the Malaysia Airlines jet and all 298 people on board. A spokesman with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said they will attempt to return Monday.

Pro-Russian separatists still control the area where the plane was shot down. But fighting in the wider eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk has been heavy as Ukrainian government troops try to drive them out. Each side says the other is tampering – or intends to tamper – with evidence at the crash site.

"Kiev is trying to destroy the evidence of a crime by its Army," separatist leader Aleksander Borodai told Reuters, referring to a Ukrainian Army offensive some distance from the site on Sunday.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said an agreement reached with separatist leader Borodai would "provide protection for international crash investigators" to recover human remains and ascertain the cause of the crash.

"We also need a full deployment of investigators to have unfettered access to the crash site so we can understand precisely what happened to MH17. I hope that this agreement with Mr Borodai will ensure security on the ground, so the international investigators can conduct their work," Najib said.

"Three grieving nations" - Malaysia, Australia, and The Netherlands – had formed a police group to secure the site, he said in a statement issued by his office.  Officials from Australia and The Netherlands have said the mission would not be armed.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.