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

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs