News / Asia

    Q&A with Steve Herman: Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17

    MH17 Flight path and crash site
    MH17 Flight path and crash site
    VOA News

    Thursday's crash of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 over eastern Ukraine is the second tragedy this year for the airline. VOA's William Gallo spoke to Southeast Asia correspondent Steve Herman about how Asia is responding to the disaster.

    Q: So this is another tragedy for Malaysia Airlines. And this was quite the shock, it happened in the middle of the night. I know Malaysian officials gave a late-night press conference. What are they saying?

    A: Obviously Malaysia Airlines wants to assure everyone that its pilots or the aircraft were not at fault. A second mysterious tragedy in such a short time for the airlines could be potentially very serious for it economically. I'm flying, in example, in a few hours on Malaysia [Airlines] to go to Kuala Lumpur to report more about this and obviously many people around the world now are going to have second thoughts about flying the airline, although this does appear, according to U.S. and Ukrainian intelligence officials, to be a shoot down of the aircraft, perhaps mistaken for a Ukrainian military aircraft. And there's no indication whatsoever that there was pilot error or some sort of mechanical fault that brought down MH17 over eastern Ukraine at this point.

    Q: Now there is some speculation in international media reports that some airlines, such as Malaysia Airlines, were flying over Ukraine because this was a cheaper route and it was to save fuel. Do you think they'll be heavily criticized for that?

    A: I think almost certainly that is going to be heavily scrutinized if not heavily criticized in the days ahead. Airlines of course are very conservative when it comes to savings and fuel costs and they always want to fly the shortest route possible if the airspace is open. And of course, hindsight is 20/20, as we say, meaning it is very easy to look behind this and say that these aircraft should not have been over that airspace. And in fact what we are seeing now is that the eastern Ukraine airspace is being closed and many airlines are deciding not to fly over Ukraine whatsoever now - it's a growing list by the hour. And obviously this is going to be regarded as one of the possibly most tragic mistakes made in modern airline history by flying this passenger jet with so many people over airspace where it was suspected that insurgents did have the type of missiles to reach airplanes and we saw some other apparent shoot downs in previous days.

    Q: How are other governments in Asia responding to the disaster? I know that a lot of people on this plane were headed to an AIDS conference in Australia, so we saw Prime Minister Tony Abbott make a statement.

    A: Yes, obviously a lot of statements of condolences offered by leaders in Asia. This was a popular time of year for Europeans to head to Southeast Asia, such as the resort island of Bali in Indonesia. We know a number of people on MH17 were headed there. And there were also Malaysian nationals returning to their home country. So this coming so close after the Malaysia Airlines 370's mysterious disappearance is really stunning everyone here in the region.

    You May Like

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.