Malaysian passenger plane crashes in Ukraine

Malaysian passenger plane crashes in Ukraine

A Malaysian passenger airliner crashed in Ukraine near the Russian border, according to a Ukrainian official.

Last Updated Jul 17, 2014 2:15 PM EDT

IEV, Ukraine
-- A Ukrainian official said a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday over a town in the east of the country, and Malaysian Airlines tweeted that it lost contact with one of its flights over Ukrainian airspace.

Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister, said on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet. He also said it was hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher, which can fire missiles up to an altitude of 72,000 feet.

As plumes of black smoke rose up near a rebel-held village of Grabovo in eastern Ukraine, an Associated Press journalist counted at least 22 bodies at the crash site.

The plane appeared to have broken up before impact and the burning wreckage - including body parts and the belongings of passengers - was scattered over a wide area. 


Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called the downing an act of terrorism and called for an international investigation into the crash. The government of Ukraine said in a statement Thursday afternoon that it has evidence that the Russian military was involved in the crash.

"The plane was shot down, because the Russian air defense systems was affording protection to Russian mercenaries and terrorists in this area," the statement said.

Ukraine pro-Russia rebels said they didn't shoot down the airliner and blamed Ukrainian armed forces.

Malaysia Airlines said on its Twitter feed that it "has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam. The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace. More details to follow." The plane's destination was Kuala Lumpur.

There is still no confirmation that the plane was shot down, CBS News correspondent David Martin reports. If it was shot down, it would have had to be a Russian-made surface-to-air missile system, complete with radar, fire control, launcher and missile. A shoulder-fired missile could not have reached that altitude.

On two occasions earlier in the week, Martin reports, U.S. intelligence determined that surface-to-air missiles had shot down a Ukrainian cargo plane and a Ukrainian Frogfoot jet fighter. Both of them were flying above 20,000 feet, which is above the range of shoulder fired missiles.

Martin reports that the system which detects ballistic missile launches did not detect a launch that could have brought down the airliner, but it is not programmed to do that. There are satellites and ground-based radars capable of detecting this kind of missile, so the evidence almost certainly exists.

The Malaysia Airlines plane is a Boeing 777-200ER, which was delivered to Malaysia Airlines on July 30, 1997, according to Flightglobal's Ascend Online Fleets, which sells and tracks information about aircraft. It has more than 43,000 hours of flight time and 6,950 takeoffs and landings.

The FAA has prohibited U.S. carriers from flying in the area of Ukraine where the plane crashed, CBS News correspondent Bob Orr reported. Many international airlines did the same.

President Barack Obama spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the plane crash during a phone call, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest confirmed.

Putin called the prime minister of Malaysia to express his condolences.

The State Department could not immediately confirm if any Americans were on board the flight. Reuters, citing Interfax, reported that that there may have been 23 Americans on board.

It was the second time that a Malaysia Airlines plane had gone missing in less than six months. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 - another Boeing 777 - disappeared in March while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. It has not been found, but the search has been concentrated in the Indian Ocean far west of Australia.

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 region where the flight was lost has seen severe fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia separatist rebels in recent days.

A launcher similar to the Buk missile system was seen by Associated Press journalists near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne earlier Thursday.

On Wednesday evening, a Ukrainian fighter jet was shot down by an air-to-air missile from a Russian plane, Ukrainian authorities said Thursday, adding to what Kiev says is mounting evidence that Moscow is directly supporting the separatist insurgents in eastern Ukraine. Security Council spokesman Andrei Lysenko said the pilot of the Sukhoi-25 jet hit by the air-to-air missile was forced to bail after his jet was shot down.

Pro-Russia rebels, meanwhile, claimed responsibility for strikes Wednesday on two Ukrainian Sukhoi-25 jets. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said the second jet was hit by a portable surface-to-air missile, but added the pilot was unscathed and managed to land his plane safely

Moscow denies Western charges that it is supporting the separatists or sowing unrest in its neighbor. The Russian Defense Ministry couldn't be reached for comment Thursday about the Ukrainian jet and Russia's foreign ministry didn't respond to multiple requests for comment.

On Monday, Ukrainian officials said one of their military transport planes was hit by a rocket and downed in the same area.

Rebels in conflict-wracked eastern Ukraine immediately claimed responsibility for downing the Antonov AN-26, but Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey said the rocket might have been fired from inside Russia.

Heletey said the plane was flying at an altitude of 21,300 feet, which he said was too high to be reached with the weapons used by the separatists fighting government troops.

No shoulder-fired missile is capable of effectively targeting an aircraft at that altitude of 30,000 feet, lending credence to the reports that it might have been a military air defense type missile like the self-guided Buk system cited by the Russian news agency.

At least two Russian news outlets reported at the end of June that pro-Russian rebels had seized a Ukrainian airbase in the Donestk region where Buk missile systems were located. It wasn't clear how long the rebels maintained control of the "A-1402 military base," or whether any Buk systems had been removed from it.

The NTSB, FAA and Boeing are all aware of the reports of the crashed Malaysian Airlines plane - they're still in the process of gathering information and don't have anything more to add at this time.

Boeing sent the following tweet: "Our thoughts and prayers are with those on board MH17, as well as their families and loved ones. We stand ready to provide assistance."

Other passenger planes have been shot down before including:

- April 20, 1978: Korean Airlines Flight 902, which diverted from its planned course on a flight from Paris to Seoul and strayed over the Soviet Union. After being fired upon by an interceptor aircraft, the crew made a forced landing at night on the surface of a frozen lake. Two of the 97 passengers were killed by the hostile fire.

- Sept. 1, 1983: Korean Air Lines Flight 007 shot down by at least one Soviet air-to-air missile after the 747 had strayed into Soviet airspace. All 240 passengers and 29 crew were killed.

- July 3, 1988: Iran Air Flight 655 Aircraft was shot down by a surface to air missile from the American naval vessel U.S.S. Vincennes. All 16 crew and 274 passengers were killed.


_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


A Malaysian passenger airliner crashed in Ukraine near the Russian border, according to a Ukrainian official.

An adviser to Ukraine's Interior Minister says a Malaysian passenger plane carrying 295 people has been shot down over a town in the east of the country. Anton Gerashenko says on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet when it was hit Thursday by a missile fired from a Buk launcher.

President Petro Poroshenko denied that Ukraine had any involvement in the plane crash.

CBS News has not confirmed that the plane was shot down.

Malaysia Airlines said on its Twitter feed that it "has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam. The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace. More details to follow."

A source told Interfax that the Boeing 777 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

A spokesman for Ukraine's Security Council said earlier on Thursday that an Air Force fighter jet had been struck and shot down by a missile fired from a Russian plane. Spokesman Andrei Lysenko said in a televised briefing that the pilot of the Sukhoi-25 jet was forced to bail from his craft after it was shot down Wednesday evening.

Rebels in conflict-wracked eastern Ukraine immediately claimed responsibility for downing the Antonov AN-26, but Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey said the rocket might have been fired from inside Russia.

Heletey said the plane was flying at an altitude of 21,300 feet, which he said was too high to be reached with the weapons used by the separatists fighting government troops.

According to the Interfax reports, MH17 was hit at close to normal cruising altitude for a passenger jet, around 30,000 feet. No shoulder-fired missile is capable of effectively targeting an aircraft at that altitude, lending credence to the reports that it might have been a military air defense type missile like the self-guided Buk system cited by the Russian news agency.

The NTSB, FAA and Boeing are all aware of the reports of the crashed Malaysian Airlines plane - they're still in the process of gathering information and don't have anything more to add at this time.

NTSB says that if this is a Boeing 777 plane, they would have stake in the investigation.


Page: [[$index + 1]]
comments powered by Disqus