Official: Malaysian plane shot down over Ukraine ETA carrying 295 passengers
Official: Malaysian plane shot down over Ukraine
Posted: 07/17/14, 11:38 AM EDT | Updated: 29 secs ago
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - A Ukrainian official said a Malaysian passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday over a town in the east of the country.
Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine's Interior Minister, said on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters (33,000 feet) when it was hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher. A similar launcher was seen by Associated Press journalists near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne earlier Thursday.
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."
Malaysia Airlines Passenger Jet Crashes in Ukraine, Reports Say
The reports could not immediately be confirmed by NBC News, but Malaysia Airlines said on its Twitter account that it had lost contact with an aircraft, Flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. A Reuters correspondent in eastern Ukraine reported seeing the burning wreckage of a plane and bodies on the ground.
More than four months ago, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board, disappeared in the greatest mystery in modern aviation. Multi-nation searches of swaths of land and ocean have turned up no sign of that aircraft.
A adviser to the Ukrainian interior ministry said that Flight 17, a Boeing 777, had been shot down over a town in the east of the country, The Associated Press reported. Pro-Russian separatists have been fighting Ukrainian security forces in that region for months.
The adviser, Anton Gerashenko, said on his Facebook page that the plane was flying at 33,000 feet when it was hit by a missile fired from a launcher known as a Buk. A similar launcher was seen by Associated Press journalists near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne earlier Thursday.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Twitter: “I am shocked by reports that an MH plane crashed. We are launching an immediate investigation.”
The Malaysian defense minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, said that there was no confirmation that the plane had been shot down. He said on Twitter that the Malaysian military had been instructed to “get on it.”
President Barack Obama was briefed and directed his team to be in close touch with senior Ukrainian officials, press secretary Josh Earnest said. Officials at the Pentagon scrambled to learn more and assess who might have had the capability to shoot down an airliner.
Eastern Ukraine is among the most volatile regions in the world.
In February, protesters toppled the pro-Russian government in Kiev, and Russia answered by invading and later annexing the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine. Since then, pro-Russian separatists have fought Ukrainian security forces in the east.
Evan Kohlmann, an NBC News terrorism analyst, said that shooting down a 777 at 33,000 feet would require “access to serious military equipment.”
“The chances this was done by a conventional terrorist group like al Qaeda or something like that is almost nonexistent,” he said.
A Ukrainian military cargo plane was shot down earlier this week, but it was not clear who shot it down.
The FlightStats website showed the last recorded position of Flight 17 over Ukraine, west of the Russia border, at about 9:20 a.m. ET.
An unidentified Russian aviation industry source told Reuters that the plane did not enter Russian airspace when expected.
Boeing said it was trying to learn more and that its thoughts and prayers were with everyone on board, their families and loved ones.
The Boeing 777 had one of the best safety records in the industry. In July 2013, a 777 operated by Asiana Airlines crash-landed in San Francisco. Flight 370, which was also a 777, disappeared March 8.
Was it shot down? All sides are denying they shot it down
NEW: A man that relatives said is aboard downed Malaysia Airlines Flight #MH17 said he posted this on Facebook before the flight took off:
“Should it disappear, this is what it looks like." - via ABC World News with Diane Sawyer