A man gestures at a crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Hrabove, Ukraine. (Source: AP)
As unthinkable as shooting down an airliner with hundreds of passengers is, it has happened before. Among the most notable cases in recent decades were an Iranian plane shot down by the US Navy and a South Korean airliner destroyed by a Russian fighter jet.
- Oct. 20, 1998: Rebels in eastern Congo shoot down a Congo Airlines passenger jet carrying 40 people. The plane crashes into a densely forested area just outside of Kindu, about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) east of Kinshasa.
- Sept. 22, 1993:- Abkhazian rebels in Georgia shoot down a passenger plane, killing 80. A day earlier, 28 died when a Russian Tu-134 was hit by Abkhazian fire and crashed into the Black Sea.
- July 3, 1988: U.S. warship Vincennes shoots down an Iranian passenger plane over the Persian Gulf, mistaking it for a threatening warplane, during the war between Iraq and Iran. All 290 people aboard are killed. United States pays more than $ 130 million in a 1996 settlement that includes compensation for families of the victims.
- April 10, 1988: Afghan guerrillas shoot down a Soviet-built passenger jet, killing all 29 people aboard. Soviet television condemns the incident, especially after announcements that a negotiated end to the 10-year-old Afghan war is near.
- Sept. 1, 1983: A Soviet fighter jet shoots down a Korean Air Lines passenger jet en route from New York to Seoul, purportedly mistaking the craft for a spy plane as it wandered into Soviet airspace west of Sakhalin Island. All 269 people aboard are killed. The incident helped lead to the commercial release of GPS for civilian use, including aviation. The technology was developed by the U.S. military.
- April 20, 1978: An off-course South Korean jetliner carrying 110 people is attacked by a Soviet MiG fighter and is forced to crash land on a frozen lake near Murmansk, killing two passengers.
- Feb. 21, 1973: Libyan Airlines Flight 114 en route from Tripoli to Cairo goes off course, crossing the Suez Canal into airspace over the Israeli-held Sinai Desert. Israel claims the plane refuses to identify itself and two Air Force Phantom jets fire at it to force it to land. The aircraft goes out of control and crashes, killing 108 people. There are five survivors.