Malaysia Airlines passenger jet shot down over Ukraine, 298 dead


FoxNews.com
July 17, 2014

A Malaysia Airlines passenger plane with 298 aboard was shot down by a surface-to-air missile in Ukraine near the Russian border a day after a Ukrainian military jet was downed, Fox News has confirmed.

The Boeing 777 bound for Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam was shot down at cruising altitude about 35 miles from the border, according to Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Minister. He said all passengers and crew members were killed. A Reuters correspondent near the scene reported seeing burning wreckage and bodies strewn across a nine-mile debris field. A Ukrainian Emergency official told the news agency body parts and at least 100 bodies were seen in the area.

Although Malaysia Airlines originally said there were 280 passengers and a crew of 15 aboard the flight, it later upped the number of passengers to 283 to account for three infants.

The flight manifest reportedly 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.

Other passengers reportedly were from the Netherlands, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Great Britain, Germany, Belgium, the Philippines and Canada.

An AFP journalist at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport – where the plane had taken off – said distraught family members were in tears, according to The Telegraph.

The incident touched off immediate finger-pointing between Russian separatists and the Ukrainian government. Eastern Ukraine separatist leader Alexander Borodai told Reuters that Ukrainian military forces shot the jet down, but Kiev denied involvement and labeled the incident a “terrorist act.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Ukraine bore responsibility for the crash, but he did not address the question of who might have shot it down and didn’t accuse Ukraine of doing so.
“This tragedy would not have happened if there were peace on this land, if the military actions had not been renewed in southeast Ukraine,” Putin said, according to a Kremlin statement issued early Friday. “And, certainly, the state over whose territory this occurred bears responsibility for this awful tragedy.”

The White House said President Obama spoke with Ukrainian President Poroshenko Thursday afternoon to discuss the crash and “emphasized that all evidence from the crash site must remain in place on the territory of Ukraine until international investigators are able to examine all aspects of the tragedy.”

Meanwhile, a U.S. intelligence source told Fox News that the intelligence community was ruling out the possibility the missile was fired by the Ukraine military but could not rule out that it was fired from Russian territory.

The missile was believed to have been fired from a Russian Buk launcher, and the Malaysia Airlines plane appeared to be at least the third aircraft downed in the area since Monday, when a Ukrainian An-26 cargo plane was shot down. Late Wednesday, a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet crashed, though it could not be confirmed if it was shot down.

Separatist leader Igor Girkin boasted on Facebook at about the same time the plane went down claiming to have downed a transport plane, but the post was quickly deleted after it became clear the plane was a passenger aircraft.

“In Torez An-26 was shot down, its crashes are lying somewhere near the coal mine “Progress,” read the tweet, obtained by FoxNews.com and translated into English. “We have warned everyone: do not fly in our skies.”

The self-titled “Self-defence forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic” boasted in a June 29 press release of having taken control of Buk missile defense systems. The Buk, or SA-11 missile launchers, have a range of up to 72,000 feet.

Separatist groups reportedly blocked Ukrainian officials from the scene, and later said the “black box,” or flight data recorder, had been sent to Moscow. But The Associated Press reported that the rebels intend to call a three-day cease-fire to allow a probe of the incident.

KT McFarland, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan and a Fox News national security analyst, said the attack was most likely the work of Russian separatists, not the Russian or Ukrainian armies.

“I think it’s far more likely it was rebel forces in eastern Ukraine trying to get the Russian back involved,” McFarland said.

But retired Army Lt. Col Ralph Peters, also a Fox News contributor, said it is unlikely the Russian military would have put missile batteries capable of knocking a plane out of the sky at such an altitude in the hands of rebels.

“It wasn’t the separatists, although Russia will try to blame them, or blame the Ukrainians,” Peters said. “The Russians have not given the separatists complex, high-altitude air-defense systems. If this airliner was flying at 34,000 feet or any altitude close to that, it was shot down by Russian military air-defense systems perched on the Ukrainian border.”

Peters said the Russian military has been shooting down Ukrainian military aircraft in recent weeks, and most likely mistook the airliner for a Ukrainian military aircraft.

“Russia has a small number of elite forces, but most of the Russian military is ill-trained, sloppy and marginally disciplined.,” he said. “With no Western response to them shooting down Ukrainian aircraft, they just got trigger happy.”

The airline, which saw one of its fleet disappear over the Indian Ocean in March, confirmed only that “an incident” had occurred involving the Boeing 777.

“Malaysia Airlines has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam,” read a tweet from the airline. “The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace. More details to follow,” read a tweet from Malaysia Airlines’ account.

Malaysia Prime Minister Mohd Najib Tun Razak wrote in a post on his Twitter page that, “I am shocked by reports that an MH plane crashed.”

“We are launching an immediate investigation,” he said.

The Donetsk region government said Thursday’s plane crashed near a village called Grabovo, which it said is currently under the control of armed pro-Russian separatists. The area has been a flashpoint to the larger dispute between Ukraine and ethnic Russian separatists. Fighting has intensified in recent months in the region.

President Obama said the incident appeared to “be a terrible tragedy” and that the administration is working to determine whether American citizens were on board. He noted the national security team is in close contact with the Ukrainian government.

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said whether it was intentional or accidental it is an “international incident” when a passenger jet is shot down. McCaul said he believed only a military grade weapon could have downed the plane.

The Boeing jets are equipped with twin Rolls-Royce Trent engines, typically cruising at 35,000 feet and at speeds up to 639 miles per hour.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those on board the Malaysia Airlines airplane lost over Ukrainian airspace, as well as their families and loved ones,” Boeing said in a statement. “Boeing stands ready to provide whatever assistance is requested by authorities.”

On March 8, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, also a Boeing 777 and carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew on a route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, disappeared somewhere over the ocean. It has not been found despite expansive searches over land and water.

Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Print Friendly

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Friday, 18 July 2014 - 9:14 am

    Najib’s first respond reflect the reality and very definition of his administration when it comes to real problems this country faces – “demanding swift justice” – from who? Russians? What can we do if they ignore us? Who can we really turn to even to help?

    When it comes to the tough problems of race, religion, education, public safety especially Sabah, judicial system etc, UMNO/BN faces the same connundrum and situation, their own mediocrity created the problem and when it becomes too big to handle, they can only make a display of trying to deal with it..

  2. #2 by Godfather on Friday, 18 July 2014 - 9:25 am

    Russia provided the missile and trained the Ukrainian separatists to use it. Now that the separatists have fired it and brought down the MH plane, what are we going to do about it ? Stop trading with Russia ? Go to the UN and cry about it ?

  3. #3 by Justice Ipsofacto on Friday, 18 July 2014 - 9:51 am

    So? The aircraft was downed by the sloppy trigger happy russian military.

    Ok. Ok. Now what? Huh? jib?

    Put on our boots and bush jacket and go a searching in the skirmish fraught region of ukraine?

  4. #4 by pulau_sibu on Friday, 18 July 2014 - 10:11 am

    Najeep should send in our military to fight the criminal militants

  5. #5 by Bunch of Suckers on Friday, 18 July 2014 - 12:21 pm

    Please shut down the sector!!! After all, it is a unprofitable sector!!!!

    Because of profound corruptions and poor managements, million dollars of tax payers’ monies have been pounding over decades into as to make it alive!!!!

    What a shame and waste???????

    Breeding or spawning ground for corruptions!!!!

  6. #6 by PRmaju on Friday, 18 July 2014 - 2:35 pm

    This is an avoidable disaster. Many airlines have the common sense and judgement to avoid war zone, the poor management in MAS is sleeping on the job again , even despite the fact that 2 air crafts have been shot down did not alert their dull mind , lives are unnecessary lost .

  7. #7 by PRmaju on Friday, 18 July 2014 - 2:36 pm

    MAS must really close shop now to save money and lives !! and Msians’ face !!

  8. #8 by nckeat88 on Friday, 18 July 2014 - 2:48 pm

    Maybe ask that 1 minute politician, he can solve the problem for us. Some people are just shameless, using other people tragedy trying to get political gain.

You must be logged in to post a comment.