MH17 train arrives in east Ukraine city

Last updated 21:06 22/07/2014
'PROOF': Shrapnel damage suggests an SA-11 proximity frag warhead may have exploded slightly below and ahead of #MH17's port wing, Royal United Services Institute analyst Justin Bronk said.

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A train bearing the bodies of the people who died in the Malaysia Airlines crash arrived in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkhiv on their way to the Netherlands.  

Various reporters saw the train on Tuesday as it pulled into a train station in Kharkhiv, where Ukrainian authorities have set up their crash investigation centre.  

For many, it is the next stop on their journey home to the Netherlands. Of the 298 who died, 193 were Dutch citizens.

Earlier, military experts confirmed MH17 was likely shot out of the sky by a missile after studying a key image of the plane's wreckage.

The Financial Times claimed it is the first apparent hard evidence that the plane was hit by a missile, lending weight to a popular theory that the aircraft was taken out "by pro-Russian separatists and Russian military personnel".

The evidence is a photo of a charred sheet of metal from the plane covered in small holes with a massive gaping hole in its centre.

Two defence analysts and a former military pilot agree the piece pictured came from the left side of the Boeing 777, indicating the missile was despatched from the left and in front of the plane.

They claim the large hole pictured was likely blasted out from inside the plane as it rapidly depressurised over 10,000 metres in the air.

Douglas Barrie, an analyst from London's International Institute for Strategic Studies, said this was the kind of damage expected from "a high explosive fragmentation warhead".

He said this was exactly the kind of weapon used by the weapons firing system spotted entering Ukraine just before the crash.

A Royal United Services Institute analyst, Justin Bronk, also believed it indicated the plane was taken out by an SA-11 missile fired from a Buk-M1.

"The size of the shrapnel holes is consistent with what one might expect to see from an SA-11 hit. However, it is difficult to assess the total blast pattern with such a small fragment of fuselage," Bronk said.

An unnamed former senior Royal Air Force officer told the Financial Times the damage was similar to the devastation wrought by flying shrapnel from rocket attacks.

Anti-aircraft missiles are designed to explode close to the plane, showering the plane with hot shrapnel that shreds and destroys the vessel.

Bob McGilvray, an Australian who served in the British Army for 12 years and was based in Germany during the Cold War, said it would have been an "easy hit".

"The Buk would have made utter breakfast of the airliner because of the size of it," McGilvray, a retired captain, said.

The piece of plane pictured in the image was found in a backyard close to the crash site. The home owner moved it out of his garden and onto the roadside as it looked important.

All three experts told the Financial Times the evidence requires further investigation. Other experts recently said the plane was likely shot from behind.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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