President Barack Obama offered his first public comments on Thursday about the Malaysia Airlines plane that crashed over Ukraine, saying his first priority is to find out whether there were any Americans on board the flight.
“Obviously, the world is watching reports of a downed passenger jet near the Ukraine border,” Obama said in brief comments before a planned speech in Delaware. “And it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy.”
“Right now, we’re working to determine whether there were American citizens on board. That is our first priority. And I directed my national security team to stay in close contact with the Ukrainian government,” Obama said. “The United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why. And as a country, our thoughts and prayers are with all the families of the passengers, wherever they call home.”
Obama’s comments come several hours after it was reported that a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 295 people on board was believed to have been shot down Thursday over Ukraine, near the Russian border.
The plane was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.