News / Europe

Malaysian Airliner Crashes in Eastern Ukraine

  • Emergency workers carry a stretcher with a victim's body in a bag at the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines jet near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, July 19, 2014.
  • Flowers are placed on a plane engine at the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines jet near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, July 19, 2014.
  • A pro-Russian fighter guards the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines jet near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, July 19, 2014.
  • A woman holds an anti-Putin placard to protest the downing of Malaysia Airlines MH17 in Sydney, Australia, July 19, 2014.
  • Passengers' belongings are pictured at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 before a visit by OSCE monitors, near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 18, 2014.
  • People bring flowers and candles to the Dutch embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, to commemorate the victims of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash.
  • People walk amongst the debris at the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine.
  • A relative of passengers on flight MH17 cries as he waits in a bus to be transported to an unknown location to receive more information, at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
  • People take photos of a screen showing arrival details of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 (C) at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang.
  • A woman reacts to news regarding a Malaysia Airlines plane that crashed in eastern Ukraine at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia.
  • The upper floor of Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is closed for media and reserved for family and relatives of Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17.
  • A relative walks past members of the press as he arrives at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
  • Smoke rises up at a crash site of a passenger plane, near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine.
  • A part of the wreckage of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane is seen after it crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.
  • The site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash is seen near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.
  • The site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash is seen near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.
  • The site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash is seen at the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.
VOA News

A Malaysia Airlines jetliner flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed Thursday in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board, and Ukrainian government officials said pro-Russian insurgents had shot down the plane.

A senior U.S. official said a surface-to-air missile downed the Boeing 777-200  but analysts don't yet know where the missile was launched from nor who fired it

Related video report by VOA's Sharon Behn:

Ukraine Conflict Tensions Rise With Crash of Malaysian Passenger Planei
X
Sharon Behn
July 18, 2014 1:43 AM
Ukraine on Thursday said a Malaysian passenger plane had been shot down over eastern Ukraine - killing all 298 passengers and crew on board and potentially escalating the conflict between Kyiv and Moscow and Russian-backed separatists. Sharon Behn reports on how the latest developments could affect U.S. and European decisions to impose sanctions on key Russian sectors for violating Ukraine's sovereignty.

 

Malaysia Airlines said in a statement that Flight MH17 lost contact with Ukrainian air-traffic control at around 2:15 p.m. UTC. Many of the passengers were Dutch citizens.

The jet went down in a rural part of the Donetsk region, not far from the Russian border, where the Russian-backed fighters have battled Ukraine governement troops in what increasingly resembles all-out war.

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry, citing military officials, said the airliner was flying at around 33,000 feet when it was hit by a surface-to-air missile known as a Buk.

The Buk is a sophisticated, medium-range, Soviet-era surface-to-air system that can fire missiles up to 72,000 feet in altitude.

"The plane was shot down, because the Russian air defense systems was [sic] affording protection to Russian mercenaries and terrorists in this area," ministry spokeswoman Natalya Melnychuk said in a statement on Facebook.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he didn't rule out that the airliner was shot down.

"We do not rule out that this plane has been shot down but emphasize that the Armed Forces of Ukraine were not engaged in any activity involving hitting targets in the air," he said in a statement posted on the presidential website.

In a statement posted later on Twitter, Poroshenko wrote: "This is not an incident, not an accident, but an act of terror."

Washington in touch with Ukraine

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden says a Malaysian passenger jet was "blown out of the sky" over eastern Ukraine Thursday, and did not crash by accident.

VOA's Pentagon correspondent, Jeff Seldin, says U.S. officials confirm the plane was hit by a missile - but that it is not clear who fired the missile or whether it came from Russian or Ukrainian territory.

In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that U.S. officials have been in touch with Ukrainian officials, but declined to elaborate. President Barack Obama, meanwhile, called the crash a terrible tragedy.

“Right now we’re working to determine whether there were any American citizens on board.  That is our first priority and I’ve directed my national security team to stay in close contact with the Ukrainian government .  The United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why," President Obama said during a speech in Delaware. And as a country our thoughts and prayers are with all the families and passengers wherever they call home.”

Watch video report from VOA's Carolyn Presutti:

US: Malaysian Plane Shot Down over War Area in Ukrainei
X
July 18, 2014 3:28 AM
U.S. officials are saying a Malaysian jet flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down as it crossed eastern Ukraine. The downing of the jet --- the second loss for Malaysia Airlines in four months -- escalates tension in the civil war between Ukraine and Russia. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has more.

Before leaving on his trip, Obama spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin. A day earlier, the United States announced new economic sanctions targeting major Russian oil and financiali companies, the latest in a series of moves aimed at punishing Russia for its role in Ukraine.

According to the White House, the call had been requested by Moscow. As the two spoke, the first reports of the crash emerged, and Putin brought them up with Obama at the end of the conversation, Earnest said.

Obama also telephoned Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte to offer condolences. White House officials say the two leaders talked about the need to ensure that international investigators have unimpeded and immediate access to the crash site.

In televised comments in Moscow late Thursday, Putin said the Ukrainian government bore responsibility.

"This tragedy would not have happened, if there had been peace on that land, or in any case if military operations in southeastern Ukraine had not been renewed," he said. "And without doubt the government of the territory on which
it happened bears responsibility for this frightening tragedy."

The United Nations Security Council was scheduled to hold an emergency session Friday morning to discuss the crash. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for a "full and transparent international investigation."

Crash location

News reports said the plane crashed near the eastern town of Snizhne, near the border with Russia, which has seen heavy fighting in recent weeks. An airstrike there earlier this week killed 11 people. There was no claim of responsibility for that attack, though the rebels blamed Ukraine's air force.

On Thursday, around the time of the reported crash, separatists claimed they had downed an Antonov An-26 miltary transport plane near the town of Torez, which is less then six miles from Snizhne.

MH17 Flight path and crash site
MH17 Flight path and crash site

Social media postings on Twitter and the Russian site VKontakte that were attributed to Igor Strelkov, a Russian citizen who is a top insurgent leader, claimed that insurgents had shot down the An-26 at around the same time that the Malaysian airliner went down.

The VKontakte posting, which also included video showing smoke rising purportedly from the fields outside the village of Torez, was posted at 5:50 p.m. Moscow time, and read:

"In the vicinity of Torez, an An-26 was just shot down, falling somewhere in the vicinity of the Progress coal mine. We warned them about this: Don't fly over 'our skies.' And here is video confirmation of the latest 'bird strike.' The bird fell near the slagheap, the residential district was not struck. No civilians suffered. There's also information about a second downed plane, apparently a [Sukhoi]."

There was no immediate way to authenticate the video or the postings, although the claims appeared to match up with initial reports about when and where the Malaysian airliner went down.
 
The posting was later removed from the VKontakte page.

A later posting on the same VKontatke page and the Twitter feed linked to Strelkov quoted a top official with the unrecognized Donetsk People’s Republic as confirming that a passenger jet had crashed neared Torez. The post, attributed to Alexander Borodai, denied rebel involvement, instead suggesting that Ukrainian forces were responsible.

Insurgent forces have shorter range anti-aircraft weapons, like those known as "Igla" and have used them to down other Ukainian military flights and possibly even, a helicopter.  Borodai, however, said via Twitter that the rebels do not have weapons capable of hitting an airliner flying at 33,000 feet.

Russian media reports published June 29, however, quoted insurgent officials as having seized a Ukrainian anti-aircraft base where Buk missile systems were based. 

The Associated Press reported seeing a Buk missile system in Snizhne earlier Thursday.

Ukraine's leading security agency, the SBU, released audio recordings in which a man it identified as a rebel commander is heard telling a Russian military officer that insurgents had downed the plane. The recordings, posted on YouTube and elsewhere, could not be independently verified.

In Washington, the U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told VOA that analysts were sifting through data to try and determine the missile's origin.

The official also said it was unlikely the plane was hit by accident, though it was possible the attackers could have mistaken the jet for a military plane.


Bodies discovered

A Reuters reporter at the scene of the crash in Ukraine said dozens of bodies were scattered around the smoldering wreckage.

A rescue worker said at least 100 bodies had so far been found, and that debris was spread across an area up to about nine miles in diameter. Broken pieces of the wings were marked with blue and red paint - the same colors as the emblem of the Malaysian airline.

"I was working in the field on my tractor when I heard the sound of a plane and then a bang and shots. Then I saw the plane hit the ground and break in two. There was thick black smoke," one witness, who gave his name only as Vladimir, was quoted as saying.

A separatist rebel from the nearby village of Krasnyi Luch who gave his name only as Sergei said: "From my balcony I saw a plane begin to descend from a great height and then heard two explosions.

Malaysia launches investigation

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said the plane made no distress call before disappearing from radar. Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, meanwhile, said earlier there was no confirmation the flight had been shot down.

The incident comes four months after another Malaysia Airlines plane went missing while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, carrying 239 passengers and crew. That plane has not been found.

 

 

Plane downed Monday

The fighting in eastern Ukraine has ebbed and flowed since erupting in late April and early May. After repeated battlefield failures, Ukrainian forces seized the initiative in recent weeks, re-taking strategic towns around the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Russian support for the insurgents has never been definitively confirmed, though most observers have concluded that the presence of Russian citizens, paramilitary units and heavy weaponry like tanks in eastern Ukraine indicate Moscow's backing. 

Insurgents have downed several aircraft during their rebellion, most recently on Monday, when a Ukrainian military An-26 crashed in Luhansk region.

Separatists also claimed responsibility for hitting a Ukrainian Su-25 with a missile earlier Wednesday. The pilot of that plane managed to bring it down safely.

Also Wednesday, the Ukrainian military said a missile fired by a Russian warplane hit and brought down a Ukrainian Su-25 flying over eastern Ukraine, but that the pilot safely ejected.

Mike Eckel and Jurij Hiltajczuk contributed to this report from Washington, Mary Alice Salinas contributed to this report from the White House, Jeff Seldin contributed to this report from the Pentagon.  Some information provided by Reuters.

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by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 19, 2014 8:47 PM
While everyone in this forum is busy blaming one or the other, consider this: what if this is just a sign of things to come? If this was the act of rebels, then rebel types anywhere can do this kind of thing.....ANYWHERE! But as far as the Ukraine is concerned, this country does have the latest and up-to-date aviation tracking equipment that was mandated for all international air travel after 9-11. Including Russia. With the accords of 9-11, in order for a nation to have international air travel, must have international clearances of training and equipment. I know this, because I have been in aviation for 30 years, and a pilot as well. This was a major concern in the aviation world after 9-11. That's why this disappearance ofthe Malaysian plane earlier this year makes no sense to us in aviation. But for this, the aviation world knows that Ukraine wouldn't have done this, because that would be justification for an act of war against all nations! Not dismissing Ukraine altogether, but the chances this was the intention of Ukraine is less than 1%. Add to this, we have what we refer to as 'fire detectors', which can pin-point exactly where a missile, RPG, etc was fired from. These satellites were part of the SDI during the Reagan era. Ukraine and Russiaare well aware of this technology, and Russia has its own 'fire detectors' as well. With all this being said, the chances of rebels doing this is great. Again, if this was done by the rebels, (and I doubt very seriously that Putin would have wanted them to do this), the this will be a sign that will embolden rebel activity everywhere and aviation will be as unsafe, predating 9-11.

by: Igor from: Russia
July 18, 2014 5:31 AM
I think the Boeing 777 might have been shot down by 2 Ukrainian airfighters by mistake because they might have mistaken it for the air passenger plane which carried Mr. Putin. The western intelligent agencies might have share some information about the plane of Mr. Putin and its way back from Brazil and the Ukraine gorvenment might have decided to shoot it down with a missle in order to kill Mr. Putin. Fortunately Mr. Putin's plane had changed its way to escape the deadly attack.

by: Alex
July 18, 2014 4:12 AM
The world community need to be honest and admit the fact that it was happened because one lunatic has supplied other lunatics with deadly missile weapons, allowing to shoot down the air goals at long-range altitudes without understanding the consequences and human losses. And more. Russia must immediately return back the black boxes to the international commission. Otherwise everything will be forged by the Russian KGB.

by: Ivan from: Russia
July 18, 2014 3:02 AM
In my opinion neither Russia nor militants DNR and LNR don’t have any reasons for shoot down this plane.
Obviously, it was made by ukranian gov. Why?
1. In resent days ukrainian army was surround by militants of DNR and LNR. Kiev (and not only it) needed dirty provocations against Russia, DNR and LNR for changing public opinion in the world and break out full scale war against Russia.
2. Ukrainian army has BUK in this area for fight against militia’s aircrafts as militia has planes.
3. Ukraine shot down Russian plane in 2001. Initially, Ukraine denied its fault, but it was forced admit guilt as evidence was presented.
4. Ukrainian government is carrying out shamed war against Russian and Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine, destroying towns, killing women and children in the east. Ukrainian government make it with collaboration neo-Nazi (so-called right sector and another group).
This cause smells a big war.

by: Jurgen Waston from: Alberta,Canada
July 18, 2014 1:22 AM
The president Obama is less resolute compared with the former president Bush.He was supposed to do some more powerful sanction measures on Putin,like military strike.The existance of military group belongs to Putin is a potential theat for most corners of the world.The responsibilty is not only restricted in few single countries but every governments that have enough ability to do so.At the same time,Russia's Aisa partner,China, must be suppressed,too.

by: Michael from: S-Pb
July 18, 2014 12:42 AM
Ukrainian government found "guilty." Now for the control of missiles are engaged in the Ukrainian army reservists and "National Guard." I want to remind about the downed Russian plane in 2001.

by: Igor from: Russia
July 18, 2014 12:28 AM
I think it is likely that the Boeing 777 was accidentally shot down by Ukraine Air Defense System. There are some reasons for that:
- Ukraine Air Defense Units are poorly trained and organized although they have powerful systems capable of shooting down such planes. That may have been a training fire to prepare for possible Russian Air attacks. They accidentally shot down a Russian passenger plane 10 years ago, killing all passengers on board.
- The rebels have no such advanced anti-air system and if they had they would have nothing to do with it because it is too complicated for them to handle.
- I do not think it is a crime against humanity. Both Ukraine troops and the rebels benefit nothing from downing that plane. It is only either an accidental shot or a mistake. A reason Israel often gives out when it kills many innocent civilians with its attacks.

by: Pro-K from: Earth-CA
July 17, 2014 10:18 PM
The Russian special services have organized this air catastrophe to defame Ukraine and to stop the flow of Russian refugees to Russia, as well as to support the extremist fervor.

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 17, 2014 9:54 PM
While everyone in this forum is busy blaming one or the other, consider this: what if this is just a sign of things to come? If this was the act of rebels, then rebel types anywhere can do this kind of thing.....ANYWHERE!

But as far as the Ukraine is concerned, this country does have the latest and up-to-date aviation tracking equipment that was mandated for all international air travel after 9-11. Including Russia. With the accords of 9-11, in order for a nation to have international air travel, must have international clearances of training and equipment. I know this, because I have been in aviation for 30 years, and a pilot as well. This was a major concern in the aviation world after 9-11. That's why this disappearance of the Malaysian plane earlier this year makes no sense to us in aviation. But for this, the aviation world knows that Ukraine wouldn't have done this, because that would be justification for an act of war against all nations! Not dismissing Ukraine altogether, but the chances this was the intention of Ukraine is less than 1%.

Add to this, we have what we refer to as 'fire detectors', which can pin-point exactly where a missile, RPG, etc was fired from. These satellites were part of the SDI during the Reagan era. Ukraine and Russia are well aware of this technology, and Russia has its own 'fire detectors' as well. With all this being said, the chances of rebels doing this is great. Again, if this was done by the rebels, (and I doubt very seriously that Putin would have wanted them to do this), the this will be a sign that will embolden rebel activity everywhere and aviation will be as unsafe predating 9-11.

by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
July 17, 2014 9:40 PM
The entire world ponders over whom to blame for the Malasian Airliner crash. It is possible there won’t be found facts of any of the three sides involvement: neither rebels, no Government forces nor Russia.
But it is more promicing is to ask: why should the passenger airliner fly over territory engulfed by fightings going on?
Who has sent the misfortune Boening to fly this trajectory? Recently Malaysia has already lost one more Boeing due to their irresponsibility and unprofessionalism with the world unable to trace its remains.
I wonder, can Malaysian pilots and those who supervise over them fly passenger planes at all and think over territories that lie underneath?
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