Malaysian plane with 295 on board reportedly shot down by Ukraine
UKRAINE: A plane which crashed in eastern Ukraine with
295 people on board was reportedly shot down as it flew through or near
airspace deemed unsuitable for passenger jets.
The Malaysia Airlines plane, which was flying from
Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was travelling at an altitude of 33,000 feet (10,000
metres) when it was brought down, Russia’s Interfax reported.
An adviser to the Ukrainian interior ministry told the
Boeing 777 was brought down by a Buk ground-to-air missile, killing all 280
passengers and 15 crew members. Plumes of thick, black smoke could be seen
rising high into the air near the village of Grabovo, Donetsk.
The plane, which one eyewitness said split in two on
impact, is almost unrecognisable in pictures of the crash site, with burning
wreckage scattered across a vast area.
A spokesman for Malaysia Airlines, still reeling from
the loss of flight MH370 in March, confirmed it had lost contact with flight
MH17, which took off from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport at 12.15pm local time. The
flight disappeared from radar as it flew over Ukrainian airspace, the spokesman
Aviation sources said the aircraft appeared to have
been flying through a block of airspace deemed ‘unsuitable for civilian
aircraft.’ “It doesn’t mean aircraft are banned from flying into that airspace
but pilots are certainly advised not to,” he said.
“It raises questions about why the plane was in an
area it had been advised not to fly through. Did it stray into that area by
accident or did the pilot decide it was a risk worth taking, perhaps as a fuel
Alexander Borodai, the eastern Ukraine separatist
leader, said the aircraft was shot down by Ukrainian government forces - a
claim backed by a separatist from Krasnyi Luch, who told Reuters the rebels did
not have weapons capable of shooting down a plane at such height.
However, officials in Kiev denied any involvement,
with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk ordering an immediate
investigation into what he described as a “catastrophe”.