AviationMalaysian jetliner shot down by pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists
Nine Britons, 23 U.S. citizens, and 80 children are reported to be among the 283 passengers and fifteen crew members killed when an anti-aircraft missile launched by pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine brought down a Malaysian Airline Boeing 777-200 on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The plane fell to Earth near the town of Grabovo, about fifty kilometers from the Russia-Ukraine border. The Ukrainian government said the plane was shot down by the Russian Buk missile system as the liner was flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters (33,000 feet).
Nine Britons, 23 U.S. citizens, and 80 children are reported to be among the 283 passengers and fifteen crew members killed when an anti-aircraft missile launched by pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine brought down a Malaysian Airline Boeing 777-200 on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
The plane fell to Earth near the town of Grabovo, about fifty kilometers from the Russia-Ukraine border.
The BBC reports that the passengers also included 154 Dutch, 27 Australians, 38 Malaysians — including 15 crew — 11 people from Indonesia, four Germans, four Belgians, three from the Philippines, and one Canadian.
The nationalities of the remaining passengers were still being confirmed.
The aircraft departed from Amsterdam at 12.14 a.m. local time, fifteen minutes later than scheduled. It should have arrived in Malaysia at 06:10 local time, and according to Reuters, did not enter Russian airspace when it was expected to.
The Independent reports that the Eurocontrol organization, which co-ordinates European air traffic control, closed air routes in eastern Ukraine on Thursday evening.
Virgin Airlines, Lufthansa, and British Airways have confirmed that they are diverting most of their flights away from Ukrainian airspace.
A spokesman from BA said: “The safety and security of our customers is always our top priority. Our flights are not using Ukrainian airspace, with the exception of our once a day service between Heathrow and Kiev.”
Malaysia’s prime minister Najib Razak said today (Friday) that the jetliner did not make any distress call, adding that its flight route had been declared safe by the global civil aviation body. He added investigators “will leave no stone unturned.”
Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko called the crash a “terrorist” attack which posed a challenge to the whole world. “Today’s tragedy showed again that terrorism is not localized, but a world problem. And the external aggression against Ukraine is not just our problem, but a threat to European and global security,” he said.
The Ukrainian government said the plane was shot down by the Russian Buk missile system as the liner was flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters.
“Ukraine has no long-range air defense missile systems in this area.
“The plane was shot down, because the Russian air defense systems was affording protection to Russian mercenaries and terrorists in this area.
“Ukraine will present the evidence of Russian military involvement into the Boeing crash.
“The leader of the terrorists Igor Girkin (Strelkov) immediately commented on the catastrophe, believing that it was the Ukrainian jet that crashed: ‘In Torez An-26 was shot down, its crashes are lying somewhere near the coal mine ‘Progress.’ We have warned everyone: do not fly in our skies,’” the statement of the Ukrainian government read.
Russian president Vladmir Putin blamed Ukraine for the crash. Putin opened a meeting with his economic advisers by calling for a moment of silence over the crash, but added: “This tragedy would not have happened if there were peace on this land, if the military actions had not been renewed in southeast Ukraine. And, certainly, the state over whose territory this occurred bears responsibility for this awful tragedy.”
The Russia’s military said that none of its military planes had been flying close to the Russia-Ukraine border on Thursday, RIA Novosti reported.
The leader of the pro-Russian separatists, Alexander Borodai, told the RIA-Novosti news agency that discussions were under way with Ukrainian authorities on a three-day cease fire for humanitarian reasons.
Borodai denied that the pro-Russian separatists were responsible for shooting down the jetliner. “Self-defense forces have no air-defense, which could target transport aircraft at that height,” he told Interfax.
Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) warned that there will be “hell to pay” if the Russia military or Ukrainian separatists are deemed to have had any involvement in the “incident.”
“If the Malaysian plane was shot down, this is obviously a game changer and has horrific consequences,” he warned.
“It has the earmarks of a tragic mistake made by someone who had the capability to just shoot down an aircraft, and we know at least from the last couple of weeks that that could be Russian or separatist Russian capability.”
“But if it is the result of either separatist or Russian actions mistakenly believing this was a Ukrainian war plane, I think there’s going to be hell to pay and there should be,” he said in an interview on MSNBC, citing previous reports of separatists shooting down Ukrainian fighter planes.