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 Tuesday, 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.
"It was a BUK missile that hit the left upper part of the cockpit," a visibly shaken relative, Robby Oehlers, told reporters, just after being briefed by Dutch officials in The Hague.
He said a wave of sadness had swept through the room as hundreds of relatives who lost loved ones were briefed by Tjibbe Joustra, the chairman of the Dutch Safety Board.
"They showed us the fragments that were inside the plane," Oehlers said, adding that in the room "it was so quiet, you could have heard a pin drop."
The official Dutch-led investigation seeks to end 15 months of speculation about why the Boeing 777 broke up in mid-air last year killing all 298 people on board. (AFP)