Malaysia Airlines passenger jet shot down over Ukraine, 295 dead
Malaysia Airlines passenger jet shot down over Ukraine, 295 dead | Fox News
A Malaysia Airlines passenger plane with 295 aboard was shot down by a surface-to-air missile in Ukraine near the Russian border a day after a Ukrainian military jet was downed, Fox News has confirmed.
The Boeing 777 bound for Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam was shot down at cruising altitude about 35 miles from the border, according to Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine's Interior Minister. He said all 280 passengers and 15 crew members were killed. A Reuters correspondent near the scene reported seeing burning wreckage and bodies strewn across a nine-mile debris field. A Ukrainian Emergency official told the news agency body parts and at least 100 bodies were seen in the area.
The flight manifest reportedly 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."
Separatist groups reportedly blocked Ukrainian officials from the scene, and later said the "black box," or flight data recorder, had been sent to Moscow.
KT McFarland, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan, and a Fox News national security analyst said the attack was most likely the work of Russian separatists, not the Russian or Ukrainian armies.
“I think it’s far more likely it was rebel forces in eastern Ukraine trying to get the Russian back involved," McFarland said.
But retired Army Lt. Col Ralph Peters, also a Fox News contributor, said it is unlikely the Russian military would have put missile batteries capable of knocking a plane out of the sky at 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."