Malaysia Airlines plane shot down over Ukraine, 298 dead - KMSP-TV

Malaysia Airlines plane shot down over Ukraine, 298 dead

Posted: Updated:
Sky News image Sky News image
(FOX NEWS) -

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 283 passengers and 15 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.

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. Currently, the nationalities of about 40 passengers remains unknown.

"Obviously, we're seeking that information as we speak," Psaki said.

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."

"The President of Ukraine on behalf of the State expresses its deepest and most sincere condolences to the families and relatives of those killed in this terrible tragedy," said a statement released by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's office. "Every possible search and rescue effort is being made."

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; however, the technology is also available to Ukrainian fighters.

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.


  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • On Your Side: Samsung cell phone fire

    On Your Side: Samsung cell phone fire

    Thursday, July 24 2014 10:31 PM EDT2014-07-25 02:31:18 GMT
    A 13-year-old North Texas girl was awoken in the night by a smoldering cell phone on the other side of her pillow, but the cell phone manufacturer says she did something they warn users about.
    A 13-year-old North Texas girl was awoken in the night by a smoldering cell phone on the other side of her pillow, but the cell phone manufacturer says she did something they warn users about.
  • Crash, semi fire shuts down Interstate 35W at Highway 36

    Crash, semi fire shuts down Interstate 35W at Highway 36

    Friday, July 25 2014 4:44 PM EDT2014-07-25 20:44:14 GMT
    photos@fox9.com / Brian Pattyphotos@fox9.com / Brian Patty

    A major accident and semi fire shut down Interstate 35W for more than an hour Friday morning near Roseville, Minn. The crash happened just before 6:30 a.m. near the junction of Highway 36.

    A major accident and semi fire shut down Interstate 35W for more than an hour Friday morning near Roseville, Minn. The crash happened just before 6:30 a.m. near the junction of Highway 36.


  • Minn. crash victim's 4H friends to show animals at Isanti fair

    Minn. crash victim's 4H friends to show animals at Isanti fair

    Thursday, July 24 2014 7:50 PM EDT2014-07-24 23:50:12 GMT
    It is said that the true test of friendship is how many people come to help out a person in need, and if that's true, one 4H participant from Cambridge, Minn., just found out he has an entire fairground full.
    It is said that the true test of friendship is how many people come to help out a person in need, and if that's true, one 4H participant from Cambridge, Minn., just found out he has an entire fairground full.
Widgets Magazine
Powered by WorldNow

KMSP-TV
11358 Viking Drive
Eden Prairie, MN 55344

Phone: (952) 944-9999
Fax: (952) 942-0455

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices