A Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft, #MH17, has been shot down on the Russian-Ukraine border in an “act of terrorism”, killing all 295 people on board including around 100 children. The plane which was due to have landed in Malaysia at 6am this morning was from Amsterdam and was last known to have been in the Ukranian airspace.
#MH17 exploded into flames at 33,000ft as it was apparently hit by a sophisticated surface-to-air missile over territory near Donetsk held by pro-Russian rebels who the Ukrainian government says are backed by the Kremlin.
Eurocontrol said Ukrainian authorities had barred aircraft from ground level to 32,000 feet but the doomed aircraft was cruising at 33,000 feet, still within range of sophisticated ground-to-air weaponry, when it was hit. “The aircraft was flying at Flight Level 330 (approximately 10,000 metres/33,000 ft) when it disappeared from the radar. This route had been closed by the Ukrainian authorities from ground to flight level 320 (32,000ft) but was open at the level at which the aircraft was flying,” said Eurocontrol.
However, Malaysia Airlines has confirmed that the usual flight route was earlier declared safe by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. International Air Transportation Association has stated that the airspace the aircraft was traversing was not subject to restrictions.
For Malaysia, this is all coming a little too soon after Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 went missing in March this year. Here are the day’s developments so far:
- Malaysia Airlines MH17, carrying 298 people (283 passengers and 15 crew members) from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed in east Ukraine near the village of Grabovo. There are no presumed survivors. There are believed to have been Dutch, British, Australian, Malaysian and Indonesian nationals on the plane, among others.
- The names of the MH17 crew members who were on board at time of crash have been confirmed and released:
- Malaysia Airlines confirmed that the Boeing 777 aircraft did not make a distress call.
- Vice President of Malaysian Airlines Europe Huib Gorter revealed that 154 passengers are from the Netherlands, while 26 Malaysian were also reportedly on board aside from the crew.
- According to Malaysia Airlines:
- US officials say the passenger jet was shot down, citing evidence of infrared heat signal of a “massive event” as well as “information from intelligence assets” confirming the use of a surface-to-air missile system. Vice-president Joe Biden said the plane crash was “not an accident” and “apparently … blown out of the sky”.
- Separatist rebels and locals have begun tentative recovery efforts, bringing fire engines to put out blazes. Locals say the plane exploded in mid-air, and debris and bodies are scattered across an area several kilometres wide.
- Ukraine has traded accusations with rebels of shooting down the plane, with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko saying he believed a “terrorist act” was responsible, and a separatist leader denying any involvement.
- The US and Malaysia have promised to send teams to join an international investigation, as well as Ukrainian efforts. President Barack Obama spoke with Poroshenko spoke by phone, as well as with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Barack Obama also addressed the incident here:
- Putin said Kiev “bears responsibility for the tragedy”, while Ukrainian officials have alleged Russian involvement by indicating purported rebel intercepted communications and a social network page attributed to a rebel leader. A spokesman for the Kremlin said the notion of any Russian hand was “stupidity”.
- At 2:28am (Malaysian time), it was reported via Interfax that Pro-Russian separatists claim to have found MH17’s black box.
- Delta, British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa, Aeroflot and other airlines said they would avoid Ukrainian air space.
- The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting today.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak have also since released an official statement regarding the above issue.
Pictures from the crash site here:
As such, and out of respect for the family, friends, and loved ones of those who were on board the #MH17 flight, we will no longer be updating this post.
For more timely and verified updates, please visit Malaysia Airlines’ official website and follow their Twitter account. Families of passengers and crew may contact +603 7884 1234 (Malaysia) or +31703487770 (Netherlands).