The Boeing 777 plane, flight number MH17, with 295 passengers, including 15 crew members, on board was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur and lost contact with a dispatcher when it was at the altitude of 10,000 metres within the Ukranian air space.
There were no reports of survivors. Reuters pictures showed a scene of devastation with burning debris and body parts spread over a wide area near the village of Grabovo. Reuters is reporting that the dead includes 23 United States citizens.
The Ukrainian Prime Minister has ordered an investigation, while the Ukrainian president says that Ukrainian forces were not involved in bringing the plane down. Ukrainian officials said the plane may have been shot down by a Russian-made Buk, or Beech, antiaircraft system, according to a report in The New York Times. A Ukrainian interior ministry official blamed “terrorists” using a ground-to-air missile on the “catastrophe,” Reuters reports.
The Malaysian jet was hit by a surface-to-air missile, according to U.S. intelligence, The Wall Street Journal reports. Intelligence has not yet determined the origin of the missile. According to Reuters, Vice President Joe Biden, speaking in Detroit, says the crash was “not an accident” and the plane was “blown out of the sky.”
A pro-Russia rebel leader has reportedly called for a three-day halt in fighting to allow for recovery and rescue work at the plane crash cite, Reuters reports, citing the RIA news agency.
The United Nations Security Council plans to hold a meeting tomorrow, at the request of the United Kingdom, to discuss the downed Malaysia Airlines plane, reports The Daily Telegraph.
Ukraine’s Defence Ministry said that no Ukrainian fighter jets were in the area when the Malaysian aircraft was downed, the BBC reports. In a statement, the ministry said, “No surface-to-air systems are involved in the military operation against separatists in the east, and the plane was out of reach of other Ukrainian air defence forces.”
Reports that the flight was flying through restricted airspace are being disputed. The International Air Transport Association said in a statement that “based on the information available it is believed that the airspace tat the aircraft was traversing was not subject to restrictions.”
President Barack Obama spoke about the crash at the beginning of an event in Delaware, saying that it “looks like it may be a terrible tragedy.” He also offered to U.S. assistance to determine what caused the crash, NBC News reports. Determining whether there were any Americans on board the plane is the top priority, he said. Vice President Joseph Biden has spoken with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and offered U.S. assistance, Reuters quotes the White House as saying.
Pro-Russian separists in Eastern Ukraine have reportedly found the “black box” flight recorder from the plane, Reuters reports.
Footage posted online by Russia Today shows close-ups of the debris from the plane, strewn across a field.
There were 71 Dutch citizens onboard the flight, and nine Britons, reports The Daily Telegraph, citing Germany’s RTL. French authorities confirm that there were four French citizens onboard, according to Russia Today. 80 children are believed to be among the dead, reports The Independent.
A map showing empty Ukrainian airspace after the crash has been circulating online.