A Malaysian airliner was shot down over eastern Ukraine by militants on Thursday, killing all 300 people aboard, a Ukrainian interior ministry official was quoted as saying by Interfax-Ukraine news agency. Sources say around 80 children are also dead.
According to reports, various airlines are now avoiding eastern Ukraine airspace. Meanwhile, Ukraine separatist group blames Ukraine Air Force for the incident. Pro-Russian separatists have told Russian news agency Ria that they are willing to have up to 3-day ceasefire in Ukraine to allow for recovery work at site. The US has said that they don’t have their own confirmation about the incident. There are no confirmation about Indians being on board the airliner either.
I’m shocked and saddened by the Malaysian air disaster. Officials from across Whitehall are meeting to establish the facts.
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) July 17, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent ‘deep condolences’ to the Malaysian prime minister. US President Barack Obama said they will offer any kind of assistance to Malaysia.
The aircraft, which other sources said was a Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, came down near the city of Donetsk, stronghold of pro-Russian rebels, Anton Gerashchenko said, adding that it was hit by a ground-to-air missile.
There was no further confirmation of the report, although Ukrainian officials said local residents had found wreckage.
A holiday crowd boarded the Malaysian Airlines in Amsterdam. Not long later 295 innocent people are killed. This is akin to a war crime.
— Sanjay Jha (@JhaSanjay) July 17, 2014
Malaysia Airlines said on its Twitter feed it had lost contact with its flight MH-17 from Amsterdam. “The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace,” it said.
Malaysia Airlines has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam. The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace. More details to follow.
— Malaysia Airlines (@MAS) July 17, 2014
Gerashchenko was quoted as saying: “A civilian airliner travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur has just been shot down by a Buk anti-aircraft system … 280 passengers and 15 crew have been killed.” Indian airline carriers have been told to avoid using the Ukraine airspace.
Malaysia’s Star newspaper quoting sources said the plane was “shot down” while cruising at an altitude of 30,000 feet. Ukraine Interior Ministry said 295 people are feared dead in the crash, it said.
ITAR-Tass news agency reported that the airliner flying at the altitude of over 10,000 metres was supposed to enter the Russian air space at 17:20 Moscow standard time (13:20 UTC).
“However, it fell down in 60 kms from the border; the plane’s emergency location beacon went off,” the agency reported quoting sources.
The shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight tells us how vulnerable humanity is in a complex violent world of international politics.
— Sanjay Jha (@JhaSanjay) July 17, 2014
Ukraine Prime Minster orders investigation into Malaysian “airplane catastrophe”, says plane was en route from Amsterdam, Reuters said.
Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser said the Buk missile was fired by separatists, Interfax said.
Interfax-Ukraine quoted another Ukrainian official as saying the plane disappeared from radar when it was flying at 10,000 metres (33,000 feet), a typical cruising altitude for airliners.
It came down at Torez, near Shakhtersk, some 40 km (25 miles) from the Russia border. The area has been the scene of fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels.
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.
Tensions have been high between Ukraine and Russia since street protests forced former pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych from power in February.
(With inputs from Reuters, PTI)