Malaysia Airlines Flight Crashes in Ukraine Near Russian Border
07/17/2014 -A Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 295 people crashed in Ukraine near the Russian border on Thursday. The cause of the crash has not been confirmed and early reports indicate that there are no survivors.
The flight, MH17, was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, before Malaysia Airlines lost contact with it and it crashed in the Ukrainian countryside in the Donetsk region approximately 50 kilometers from the Russia-Ukraine border, according to astatement by the airline. The airplane was a Boeing 777 carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew members.
While no official cause of the crash has been confirmed, Ukrainian officials have suggested that the plane may have been shot down by Russian separatists using a �heavy, Soviet-era SA-11 ground-to-air missile,�according to Reuters. However, leaders of the rebel Donetsk People�s Republic�a pro-Russian group�have denied any involvement in Thursday�s crash, despite taking credit for downing a smaller Ukrainian transport plane earlier this week.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was not convinced by the denial�and said that �we are calling this not an incident, not a catastrophe, but a terrorist act,� in astatement to The New York Times. He is also launching in immediate investigation into the cause of the crash, and the United States has pledged its support in assisting with the process, said U.S. Press Secretary Josh Earnest.
Earnestspoke with reporters in a briefing Thursday afternoon and said that President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have both been briefed on the event. Biden also called Poroshenko after the crash to express his condolences and U.S. support in helping determine why the plane went down.
Obama also addressed the crash before beginning hisprepared remarks at the Port of Wilmington in Wilmington, Delaware, on boosting infrastructure spending. He said that the�incident "looks like it may be a terrible tragedy" and that his first priority was determining how many Americans might have been onboard the flight.
Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby also said that the Pentagon was aware of the situation and that Secretary Chuck Hagel had been briefed. However, he was also unable to confirm any details about the crash, according to a tweet on his official profile.
In the meantime, airlines announced that they were voluntarily avoiding Ukrainian airspace near the Russian border, including Delta and Dutch airline KLM,The Hill reports. "We are in contact with Malaysia Airlines to obtain further information," KLM said in a statement to the media outlet. "As a precautionary measure, KLM�avoids flying over the concerned territory."
*New details about this incident are now available in�our updated�post "U.S. says�Missile that Brought�Down Malaysian Flight was Launched from Separatist Controlled Territory."