Malaysian Airlines Plane Shot Down with Ground-to-Air Missile – All 295 Believed to be Dead

With the mystery continuing to surround Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, a Malyasian Airlines Boeing 777 (Flight MH17) was shot down on Thursday. All 295 aboard are presumed dead.

The flight was scheduled to travel from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, but was brought down in the Ukraine, an area that has been in civil war for several months.

According to an adviser to the ukrainian interior ministry, the Boeing 777 was brought down by a Buk ground-to-air missile as it flew at an altitude of roughly 6.2 miles. According to reports, debris and bodies were strewn across a nine mile area.

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An immediate investigation has been ordered by Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

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According to a tweet that went out, the plane had just passed Kremenchuk, about 186 miles from the Russian border, when it disappeared.

Fox News reports:

Fox News confirmed that the flight manifest included the names of 23 Americans, though State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said at a briefing Thursday, “we don’t have any additional details at this point on American citizens” aboard the plane.

“Obviously, we’re seeking that information as we speak,” Psaki said.

The incident touched off immediate finger-pointing between Russian separatists and the Ukrainian government. Eastern Ukraine separatist leader Alexander Borodai told Reuters that Ukrainian military forces shot the jet down, but Kiev denied involvement and labeled the incident a “terrorist act.”

“The President of Ukraine on behalf of the State expresses its deepest and most sincere condolences to the families and relatives of those killed in this terrible tragedy,” said a statement released by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s office. “Every possible search and rescue effort is being made.”

Former Reagan deputy assistant secretary of defense K. T. McFarland believes this was the work of Russian separatists, not Russians or the Ukrainian army. However, retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters doesn’t believe that the Russian military would have provided missiles that would have reached such an altitude in the hands of rebels.

“It wasn’t the separatists, although Russia will try to blame them, or blame the Ukrainians,” Peters said. “The Russians have not given the separatists complex, high-altitude air-defense systems. If this airliner was flying at 34,000 feet or any altitude close to that, it was shot down by Russian military air-defense systems perched on the Ukrainian border.”

He went on to recount that Russia had shot down numerous Ukrainian aircraft recently and that this was probably mistaken for an Ukrainian military aircraft.

“Russia has a small number of elite forces, but most of the Russian military is ill-trained, sloppy and marginally disciplined.,” he said. “With no Western response to them shooting down Ukrainian aircraft, they just got trigger happy.”

Sky News adds:

Several videos apparently filmed in the area, none of which Sky News has been able to independently verify, show plumes of thick, black smoke rising high into the air.

A Reuters correspondent at the scene said he could see the wreckage of a burning aircraft and bodies on the ground.

Aviation expert Major Charles Hayman told Sky News: “It’s highly likely this aircraft was flying along a fault line between Russian and Ukrainian defences.

“It’s possible the Ukrainians flapped a bit, thought it was hostile and shot it down.

“Perhaps it was confusion at the Ukrainian air defence centre.

“It looks like someone failed to recognise this was a civilian plane and shot it down.”

A spokesman for Boeing said it was aware of reports of MH17′s disappearance, while a Foreign Office official added: “We’re urgently working to establish what has happened.”

The obvious question is what is a commercial aircraft doing flying over a war zone in the first place?

UPDATE: So far, the State Department has not confirmed if any of the reported 23 Americans were onboard Flight MH17. (7-18-2014)

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