A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 295 souls on board crashed today in Ukraine. Reportedly shot down using a mobile anti-aircraft system called SA-17 GRIZZLY. It is not immediately clear who had been in control of such a launcher in the troubled area where Ukrainian forces are battling ethnic Russian extremists. Russian-backed rebels groups or Russian forces based in eastern Ukraine have allegedly been shooting at planes.
Malaysia Airlines confirmed that it received notification from Ukrainian ATC that it had lost contact with flight MH17 at 14.15 (GMT) at 30km from Tamak waypoint, approximately 50km from the Russia-Ukraine border.
Flight MH17 operated on a Boeing 777 departed Amsterdam at 12.15pm (Amsterdam local time) and was estimated to arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 6.10am (Malaysia local time) the next day. The route flown by the plane is the most common route for flights from Europe to South East Asia.
The plane was flying at 33,000 feet, carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew members. The Malaysian airliner was flying normally without any problems until it disappeared from radar. There were four aircraft flying in the same area at the same time that the crash occurred, but they continued their flights. According to International Air Transport Association, the plane appeared to be flying through ordinary airspace when it crashed.
“Many of the bodies were still in their seat belts and still attached to pieces of the plane.” @stavernise tweets from the scene of crash site. Dozens of bodies and broken pieces of wing with MH17 colors have been found near the town of Grabovo,
The incident comes one day after a Russian military plane reportedly shot down a Ukrainian Sukhoi Su-25 over Ukrainian territory forcing the pilot to eject, according to the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council.
Vladimir Putin has expressed his deepest condolences to Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia with regard to the accident in Ukrainian territory of a Malaysian Airlines passenger aircraft, resulting in numerous casualties.
“We didn’t do it,” Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters at UN headquarters in New York.
Aleksandr Borodai, the leader of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, has publicly denied rebel involvement in the crash adding the rebel forces do not have the capability to shoot down a plane at such an altitude.
Ukraine’s Defence Ministry has said that no Ukrainian fighter jets were in the air in the area where the Malaysian plane was shot down.
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko said “This is the third tragic incident in recent days after Ukrainian military An-26 and Su-25 were shot down from Russian territory. We don’t rule out that this plane was also shot down, and we stress that the Ukrainian military didn’t take any actions to destroy targets in the air”