Sr Philomene Tiernan ... on board Malaysian flight
(Photo: Julia Charles)

October 15, 2015

The Dutch Safety Board has confirmed that a Russian-made missile shot down Flight MH17, the Malaysian Airlines aircraft on which Australian nun Sr Philomene Tiernan died.

The Murgon-born nun was returning home from a European holiday – and the Patrick Tiernan Memorial ceremony at Dodewaard – when the Boeing 777 crashed in eastern Ukraine.

All 298 people on board, including 38 Australians, were killed.

The Dutch Safety Board said a 9N314M warhead carried by a 9M38 series missile, launched by a Russian-built BUK surface-to-air missile system, exploded near the left side of the cockpit, instantly killing the pilot and aircrew inside.

They said distinctive fragments of metal were recovered from their bodies.

However, the Safety Board did not say who fired the missile.

The explosion caused the front section of the aircraft to separate from the rest of the fuselage. Wreckage of the plane was spread over six sites on the ground.

Three other airliners were flying near Malaysia Airlines when the incident happened as the airspace had not been closed to civil aviation.

The Russian Government has disputed the findings.

After initially claiming a Ukrainian aircraft shot down the Boeing 777, a Russian official said on Wednesday that if it was a surface-to-air missile, it was an older model no longer used by the Russian military.

It accused the Dutch Safety Board of an “obvious attempt to draw a biased conclusion and carry out political orders”.

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Dutch Safety Board video

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