No survivors on Malasia Airlines jet shot down in Ukraine, officials say
(CNN) — A Malaysia Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down by a surface-to-air missile in eastern Ukraine and all 295 people aboard were killed, Fox News reported Thursday.
Malaysia Airlines confirmed that it lost contact with MH17, and the flight’s last known position was over Ukrainian airspace, the airline said on Twitter.
The jet is a Boeing 777, according to the Russian Interfax news agency.
The plane reportedly went down near the border between Russia and Ukraine.
There were 295 aboard the plane, according to multiple news reports.
Fox News confirmed that the flight manifest included the names of 23 Americans, though State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said at a briefing Thursday, “we don’t have any additional details at this point on American citizens” aboard the plane.
“Obviously, we’re seeking that information as we speak,” Psaki said.
The Facebook page of Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the Ukrainian interior ministry, claims that a Malaysia-bound civilian aircraft was “shot down” over Ukraine by “terrorists” operating a Buk surface-to-air missile system.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on his website: “We do not exclude that the plane was shot down and confirm that the Ukraine Armed Forces did not fire at any targets in the sky.”
Gerashchenko’s post says that 280 passengers and 15 crew members were killed.
The route taken by the Malaysian flight is a very common one between Kuala Lumpur and the Netherlands, said CNN aviation safety consultant Mary Schiavo. She noted that the plane was flying over a troubled area and said close communication with air traffic controllers would be a key necessity.
In a hostile or disputed areas, “any alteration from your course and you can have a problem,” she said.
Tensions have been high between Ukraine and Russia since street protests forced former pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych from power in February. Russia subsequently annexed Ukraine’s southeastern Crimea region and a pro-Russia separatist rebellion has been raging in Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions..
Ukrainian forces have been struggling to quell the separatist unrest. Ukraine’s government has accused Russia of allowing weapons and military equipment, including tanks, to cross the border illegally into the hands of pro-Russia separatists.
The Pentagon said Wednesday that Russia now had 12,000 troops on the border with Ukraine, as well as some heavy weapons. The troop numbers had fallen to about 1,000 previously from a high of an estimated 40,000 forces earlier this year.
Thursday’s report of a downed Malaysian flight marks the second time this year that Malaysian Airlines has faced an incident involving a plane.
On March 8, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared. That plane had 239 people on board.
Searchers have found no trace of 370 or its passengers despite extensive search efforts.
Flight 370 likely flew into the southern Indian Ocean on autopilot with an unresponsive crew, Australian authorities said last month.