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Early report on 'shot down' plane

Crash investigators will publish a preliminary report tomorrow on the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine.

The report will be issued by the Dutch Safety Board (DSB), which is leading the investigation into the disaster, in which 10 Britons were among the 298 people killed.

The DSB has said: "The preliminary report will present factual information based on the sources available to the DSB. In the months to come, further investigation is needed before the final report can be written."

The DSB expects to publish the final report within a year after the crash.

No one has claimed responsibility for the shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 over war-torn Ukraine on July 17, but it is suspected that the plane was been hit by a missile fired by pro-Russian separatists.

The plane was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, with the majority of those on board being Dutch.

The DSB has not been able to visit the crash site because the safety of the investigators could not be guaranteed in an area where fighting continues .

The black boxes from the flight were recovered and taken to the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch's (AAIB) headquarters in Farnborough, Hampshire, for analysis.

The DSB said both the boxes were damaged but valid flight data had been successfully downloaded.

It has already announced that its preliminary report will include not only the black box findings but also information gathered from satellite and other images, and radar information.

In a question-and-answer section on its website, the DSB posed the question of whether it would be publicly releasing the content from the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder which comprise the two black boxes.

The answer given by the board was: "Investigative materials and sources of information used by the DSB in its investigations are protected by law.

"Only information relevant to determining the cause of the MH17 crash will be included in the final report.

"The available investigative information will not be released publicly in their entirety, except for what is published in the final report."

As well as looking into the facts of the MH17 disaster, the DSB is conducting an investigation into the decision-making process concerning the flight routes and the risk assessment made in choosing to fly over East Ukraine.

In addition, the DSB is investigating why the complete passenger list for MH17 was not available immediately.

The board added: "The DSB will not make any statements with regard to apportioning blame or liability, and these issues will not form part of its investigation."

The Ukraine crash came only four months after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 - also a Boeing 777 - en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The flight on March 8 was carrying 239 people and its disappearance sparked a massive international search operation that has so far been unable to locate the aircraft, although the search continues.

Malaysia Airlines was suffering financial woes even before the two devastating incidents this year. Last month the carrier announced it was axing 6,000 jobs - almost a third of the workforce.

Its routes reorganisation will have no effect on its twice-daily service between Heathrow and Kuala Lumpur.

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