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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid