A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 carrying 295 people was reportedly shot down Thursday in a war-torn region of Ukraine near the Russian border.
Flight MH17 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 280 passengers and 15 crew members when the airline lost contact with the jet in Ukrainian air space.
Malaysia Airlines has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam. The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace. More details to follow.
— Malaysia Airlines (@MAS) July 17, 2014
The Associated Press reports the plane was shot down, and cited an adviser of Ukraine’s Interior Minister as the source of the information.
Anton Gerashenko said on Facebook that the plane was flying at 33,000 feet when it was struck by a missile fired from a Buk launcher — a truck-mounted, anti-aircraft, surface-to-air missile system. The plane crashed roughly 20 miles outside of Russian airspace near Shakhtyorsk, where pro-Russian rebels have been fighting the Ukrainian government.
“A civilian airliner traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur has just been shot down by a Buk anti-aircraft system … 280 passengers and 15 crew have been killed,” Gerashenko wrote.
Interfax-Ukraine quoted another Ukrainian official saying the plane disappeared from radar at the same altitude reported by Gerashenko.
An unidentified source told Reuters the plane “began to drop, afterwards it was found burning on the ground on Ukrainian territory.”
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk has ordered an investigation into what he described as the “airplane catastrophe.”
“We do not exclude that this plane was shot down, and we stress that the Armed Forces of Ukraine did not take action against any airborne targets,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said. “We are sure that those who are guilty in this tragedy will be held responsible.”
Ukrainian separatist leader Alexander Borodai told Reuters the jet was shot down by Ukrainian military forces, which Kiev denies.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin denied any Russian involvement to reporters at UN headquarters in New York, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has released a statement expressing “his deepest condolences to Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia with regard to the accident in Ukrainian territory of a Malaysian Airlines passenger aircraft,” The Guardian reports.
President Obama spoke with Putin this morning about new U.S. sanctions announced against Russia Wednesday, during which the Russian president “informed the US president about information received just before the telephone call from aviation services about the crash of a Malaysian plane over Ukrainian territory,” according to a statement by the Kremlin.
The air space in question above Donetsk was reportedly closed through October 31 by Ukrainian aviation authorities, according to The Wire.
An interior military official said that body parts from at least 100 bodies are being found up to nine miles from the crash site, indicating the plane came apart at high altitude.
Reuters reports that 23 U.S. citizens were aboard the aircraft when it was shot down, according to an interior minister quoted by Interfax.
Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko on Wednesday accused the Russian air force of shooting down an Su-25 ground attack jet — a claim Russia’s defense ministry called “absurd.”
Rebels in eastern Ukraine claim they shot down two Su-25s Wednesday according to the BBC.
Lysenko said the pilot of the jet shot down Wednesday was able to safely ejected the aircraft. The spokesman described the attack as “yet another act of provocation… carried out by Russia” according to the Ukrainian newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda.
— RT (@RT_com) July 17, 2014
— legionar (@MatevzNovak) July 17, 2014