Zee Media Bureau/Himanshu Kapoor
New Delhi: A Malaysia passenger airliner MH17 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 298 people on board crashed - possibly shot down - in Eastern Ukraine near the Russian border on Thursday. The tragic accident comes after the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in March earlier this year.
A global airline industry group said on Thursday that a Malaysian airliner downed over Ukraine appeared to have been flying through ordinary and open airspace when it crashed.
"Based on the information currently available, it is believed that the airspace that the aircraft was traversing was not subject to restrictions," the Geneva-based International Air Transport Association said in a statement.
The airline official gave a preliminary breakdown of the passenger`s nationalities, saying: "154 were Dutch, 27 were Australian."
In addition, 23 others were from Malaysia, 11 were Indonesian, six were British, four were German, another four were from Belgium, three were from the Philippines and one was Canadian.
Around 50 passengers remained unidentified, Malaysian Airlines vice president Huib Gorter said.
Russian President Vladmir Putin said that Ukraine was responsible for the crash in the strife-torn east of the former Soviet state.
"There is no doubt that the country on whose territory this terrible tragedy happened bears responsibility," Putin was quoted by Ria Novosti news agency as saying yesterday.
Malaysia, on Friday, dispatched a team of investigators to Ukraine to try and uncover what happened to flight MH17 after it crashed in a rebel-held area amid speculation it had been shot down.
There were 298 people, including 154 Dutch nationals, on board the Malaysia Airlines flight that crashed in strife-torn eastern Ukraine, an official from the carrier has said.
US intelligence officials told the Wall Street Journal a surface-to-air missile hit MH17. However, the unnamed intelligence source says that it`s not clear where the missile came from or who fired it.
Ukrainian President Poroshenko confirmed to Razak that “his government will negotiate with rebels in the east of the country to establish a humanitarian corridor to the crash site.”
“This is a tragic day in what has already been a tragic year in Malaysia. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those on board the flight,” Razak said. “The flight passengers and crew came from many different countries... but we are all united in grief.”
Also Read: MH17 crash: Full text of Malaysian PM`s statement
Malaysian PM Razak, holding a press conference said, "It cannot be confirmed what was the cause of the tragedy, but the Ukrainian authorities believe that the flight MH17 was shot down."
Donetsk People’s Republic Prime Minister Aleksandr Borodai, who earlier accused Kiev of shooting down the plane to frame local militias, has called for a humanitarian ceasefire for 2 to 3 days to investigate the causes of the MH17 crash, a news agency reported.
Also Read: MH17 downing: When a rebel boasted about shooting a plane
Reports are coming in that the civilian airspace over Ukraine has been closed until further notice.
Malaysia Airlines has issued a media statement after the MH17 flight crash incident. Following is the statement by the airlines -
Malaysia Airlines confirms it received notification from Ukrainian ATC that it had lost contact with flight MH17 at 1415 (GMT) at 30km from Tamak waypoint, approximately 50km from the Russia-Ukraine border.
Flight MH17 operated on a Boeing 777 departed Amsterdam at 12.15pm (Amsterdam local time) and was estimated to arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 6.10 am (Malaysia local time) the next day.
As per the latest reports, at least 71 Dutch citizens were aboard the crashed plane. The previous unconfirmed reports suggested that there were also 23 passengers with US identification and 9 Brits on the flight. Meanwhile, the French authorities have confirmed that four of their citizens died in the crash.
According to Russian news agency Interfax, the `Black Box` of the downed Malaysian plane has been found by the Pro-Russian separatists.
After the MH17 crash, Dubai`s Emirates has said that Ukraine-bound flight has returned to Dubai, and the airline has suspended flights to Kiev.
US President Barack Obama in his prescheduled address calls the crash of the flight MH17 a "terrible tragedy".
Russia’s Ministry of Emergencies has lodged an official request with the Ukrainian authorities to send its staff to assist the local emergency workers around the crash site.
At least 22 bodies have been counted at the site of the crash. In the several pictures burning wreckage and body parts can be seen in the field where the plane came down crashing.
Till yet both Kiev and Opposition have denied involvement in the incident.
After the Malaysia`s PM Razak, now Ukraine PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk has ordered an investigation into Malaysia Airlines crash.
The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, which controls the area around the crash site, says that it will pass the flight recorders of the downed plane to Russian authorities.
Russian President Vladimir Putin sends "deep condolences" to Malaysian Prime Minister over #MH17 crash in Ukraine.
Soon after the reports of downing of the MH17 jetliner, Malaysia Airlines tweeted on its official Twitter handle confirming that the contact was lost with the flight when it was flying over Ukraine.
There were 298 people, including 15 crew members, on board the Boeing 777-200 aircraft which was flying from Amsterdan to Kuala Lumpur. All on board the plane are feared to be dead in the crash and as per an Ukrainian official more than 100 bodies have been cited at the site of the crash, also adding that body parts were seen scattered around an area of 15 kms around the where the plane came down crashing.
The plane which flew from the Amsterdam airport at 12:10 pm local time was suppose to land at Kuala Lumpur airport at 6:00 AM local time.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mohd Najib Tun Razak said that he`s shocked with the reports of the plane crash, adding that an immediate investigation into the crash has been launched.
It is also being speculated that the airliner has been shot down by the separatists. However, there is no official confirmation of the reports saying that the plane was fired at.
Ukraine pro-Russia rebels said that they didn`t shoot down airliner, and blamed the Ukrainian armed forces.
Only a highly sophisticated weapon system can shoot down a plane flying at an altitude of 30,000 feet, which the flight MH17 was flying at.
While separatists denied shooting down the plane, Ukrainian President Petro Porshenko said that he believes "terrorist act" cause the plane to crash, according to BBC.
The Boeing passenger liner came down close to town of Shaktarsk region of Donetsk, where the Pro-Russians rebels are fighting with the Ukrainian security forces, after it disappeared from the radar.
This is the second major tragedy with which the Malaysia Airlines have been struck in a matter of few months. Flight number MH370 with around 250 people on board mysteriously disappeared in March this year. The search for that plane is still going on near the Indian Ocean.
Following the crash, Air India Turkish, France and Lufthansa airlines have announced that their planes will avoid Ukraine airspace.
Here are some pictures of the debris of the felled Malaysian plane