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Malaysia Airlines flight shot down over Ukraine, 295 killed

Last updated on: July 18, 2014 08:42 IST

Malaysia Airlines flight shot down over Ukraine

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All 298 people on board a Malaysia Airlines plane were killed on Thursday after the jet was shot down by "terrorists" over war-torn eastern Ukraine near the Russian border, nearly four months after the mysterious disappearance of MH370 in the Indian Ocean.

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur carrying 283 passengers and 15 crew.

Malaysia Airlines confirmed that it received notification from Ukrainian Air Traffic Control that it had lost contact with Flight MH17 at 1415 GMT (8:45 IST) at 30km from Tamak waypoint, approximately 50km from the Russia-Ukraine border.

"There were 283 passengers and 15 crew members on board the plane," Malaysian Airlines vice president Huib Gorter told reporters at a press conference at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport from where the doomed flight had taken off.

He gave a preliminary breakdown of the passenger's nationalities, saying: "154 were Dutch, 27 were Australian."

In addition, 23 others were from Malaysia, 11 were Indonesian, six were British, four were German, another four were from Belgium, three were from the Philippines and one was Canadian.

Around 50 passengers remained unidentified, Gorter said.

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Image: Armed pro-Russian separatists stnad at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region,
Photographs: Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters

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Witnesses from the town of Torez in the rebellion-wracked Donetsk region of Ukraine told RIA Novosti news agency that the plane wreckage and dead bodies have been found in the area.

At least several dozen bodies were found scattered around the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane in eastern Ukraine, witnesses said, adding the debris of the plane covered an area of about one square kilometre.

"The aircraft was shot down over Ukraine by terrorists operating a Buk surface-to-air missile system," Anton Herashchenko, an advisor to the Ukrainian Interior Minister, said said.

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Image: A general view shows the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region. The Malaysian airliner was shot down over eastern Ukraine by pro-Russian militants
Photographs: Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters

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The plane disappeared from the radar and teams from the emergency services have reached the scene.

Burning aircraft wreckage and bodies strewn on the ground were seen at the village of Grabovo, some 40 km from the Russian border in an area where pro-Russian rebels are active.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that the jetliner may have been shot down over his country's airspace.

"This incident is not a catastrophe. It is a terrorist act," he said.

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Image: The plane was allegedly shot down over Ukraine on 33,000 feet, 60 km east of Donetsk
Photographs: Flightradar24

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Ukrainian officials have accused pro-Russian rebels of being responsible for shooting down the plane.

But the press service of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic claimed the jet was downed by a missile fired from a Ukrainian air force SU-25 combat jet, a charge denied by Ukraine.

"We do not exclude that the plane was shot down and confirm that the Ukraine Armed Forces did not fire at any targets in the sky," Poroshenko said in a statement posted on the president's website.

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Image: An Emergencies Ministry member (front) walks at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.
Photographs: Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters

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Malaysia Airlines flight shot down over Ukraine

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The plane could have been brought down by a ground-to-air missile, sources said.

"I am shocked by reports that an MH plane crashed," Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on his Twitter feed.

"We are launching an immediate investigation," he said as he rushed to the Kuala Lumpur airport. Workers at the crash site were trying to find the black box.

Some media reports said pro-Russian separatists claimed to have found the flight recorders.

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Image: The debris of the ill-fated aircraft
Photographs: Nadezhda Chernetskaya/Twitter

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Malaysia Airlines flight shot down over Ukraine

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Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk also ordered a probe into accident.

A number of Ukrainian military planes have been shot down by missiles in recent weeks. Ukraine has accused Russia's military of supplying advanced missiles to the rebels, the BBC reported.

Earlier on Thursday, Ukrainian officials blamed the Russian air force for shooting down one of its ground attack jets on Wednesday.

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Photographs: Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters

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Tensions have been high between Ukraine and Russia since street protests forced former pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych from power in February.

Russia subsequently annexed Ukraine's southeastern Crimea region and a pro-Russia separatist rebellion has been raging in Ukraine's eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

Ukrainian forces have been struggling to quell the separatist unrest. Ukraine's government has accused Russia of allowing weapons and military equipment, including tanks, to cross the border illegally into the hands of pro-Russia separatists.

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Image: The wreckage of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane (back) is seen, with sunflowers in the foreground, near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.
Photographs: Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters

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US President Barack Obama described the incident as a "terrible tragedy". He said US officials were trying to establish if any Americans were on board.

Russian President Vladimir Putin "expressed deep condolences" to Malaysia's Prime Minister over the crash, a post Thursday on the Kremlin's website said.

Several airlines, including Air India, Jet Airways Lufthansa and Air France, say they will now avoid eastern Ukrainian airspace.

 


Image: An armed pro-Russian separatist stands on part of the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane after it crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.
Photographs: Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters

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