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US intel confirms missile fired at Malaysia Airlines jet, 295 killed

A Malaysia Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur has crashed in eastern Ukraine, Russian news agency Interfax reported Thursday, July 17, 2014.

A Malaysia Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur has crashed in eastern Ukraine, Russian news agency Interfax reported Thursday, July 17, 2014.

UKRAINE — A Malaysia Airlines passenger jet was shot down in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, US officials confirmed.

A senior U.S. official said one radar system saw a surface-to-air missile system turn on and track an aircraft right before the plane went down.  A second system saw a heat signature at the time the airliner was hit, the official said.

The United States is analyzing the trajectory of the missile to try to learn where the attack came from.

Malaysia Airlines confirmed that it lost contact with Flight 17 and that the plane’s last known position was over Ukrainian airspace, the airline said on Twitter.

The plane had 280 passengers and 15 crew members on board, read a Facebook post from Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry.

The Boeing 777 was “shot down” over Ukraine by “terrorists” operating a Buk surface-to-air missile system, the post said.

The Obama administration believes Ukraine did not have the capability in the region — let alone the motivation — to shoot down the plane, a U.S. official said.

According to Fox News, 23 Americans were listed on the flight manifest.

Tom Warners took a photo of MH17 from Schiphol and tweeted it. (Photo: Tom Warners via Twitter)

Plane spotter Tom Warners took a photo of a plane he claimed was MH17 just after takeoff. (Photo: Tom Warners via Twitter)

The plane was shot down near the town on Torez in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, according to the post, as it flew at about 10,000 meters (32,000 feet).

“We do not exclude that the plane was shot down and confirm that the Ukraine Armed Forces did not fire at any targets in the sky,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said, according to his website.

Details of the incident are quickly pouring in during the same week that Ukrainian officials said a Russian fighter shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane while the aircraft was in in Ukrainian airspace.

Reacting to the breaking story, Richard Quest, an aviation expert, said that it would “extremely unusual” for an airliner at 32,000 feet to be shot down. From the ground, one could simply look up and tell whether a plane was a commercial aircraft.

“It looks like a commercial aircraft, it squawks a commercial aircraft. So something is absolutely appalling that’s gone on here,” he said.

FlightRadar24 showed the plane disappearing near Kremenchuk, Ukraine.

This video of the crash was posted on YouTube:

The text that accompanied the videos indicated the plane was shot down, however the cause of the crash has not yet been determined.

A Twitter user by the name of Matevz Novak shared photos he claimed were wreckage from the crash.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said that an investigation will be launched immediately. “We must and we will find out precisely what happened to this flight. No stone will be left unturned,” he said.

And Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk ordered that a government commission investigate the crash, a statement from his office said.

Vice President Joe Biden said that Ukraine’s president accepted an offer of U.S. experts to investigate the crash, adding “they will be on their way rapidly to see if we can get to the bottom of this.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin “expressed deep condolences” to Malaysia’s Prime Minister over the crash, a post Thursday on the Kremlin’s website said. He “asked to pass the most sincere word of condolences and support to families and relatives of (the crash) victims,” the post said.

Near the end of a phone call Thursday morning with President Obama, Putin noted to the President the early reports of a downed passenger jet near the Russia-Ukraine border, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.

Obama has directed his staff to be in touch with senior Ukrainian officials, Earnest said.

The route the Malaysian plane was on, between Kuala Lumpur and the Netherlands, is a common one, aviation safety consultant Mary Schiavo said Thursday. She said that the plane was flying over a troubled area and that close communication with air traffic controllers would be a key necessity.

In hostile or disputed areas, “any alteration from your course, and you can have a problem,” she said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said "In our hearts we know Crimea has always been an inalienable part of Russia," in a speech on March 18, 2014. (Credit: CNN)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said “In our hearts we know Crimea has always been an inalienable part of Russia,” in a speech on March 18, 2014. (Credit: CNN)

Russia-Ukraine dispute

Tensions have been high between Ukraine and Russia since street protests forced former pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych from power in February. Russia subsequently annexed Ukraine’s southeastern Crimea region, and a pro-Russian separatist rebellion has been raging in Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions..

Ukrainian forces have been struggling to quell the separatist unrest. Ukraine’s government has accused Russia of allowing weapons and military equipment, including tanks, to cross the border illegally into the hands of pro-Russian separatists.

The Pentagon said Wednesday that Russia now has 12,000 troops on the border with Ukraine, as well as some heavy weapons. The troop numbers had fallen to about 1,000 previously from a high of an estimated 40,000 forces earlier this year.

On Thursday, CNN reported that Ukrainian officials said a Russian fighter shot down a Ukrainian jet Wednesday as the jet flew in Ukrainian airspace.

Tensions are high over that incident, separate from the breaking news of the Malaysian flight Thursday.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went down over the southern Indian Ocean, "far from any possible landing sites," on March 24, 2014.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went down over the southern Indian Ocean, “far from any possible landing sites,” on March 24, 2014.

Airline’s troubles

On top of that, the report of a downed Malaysian flight marks the second time this year that Malaysia Airlines has faced an incident involving a plane.

On March 8, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared. That plane had 239 people on board. Searchers have found no trace of 370 or its passengers, despite extensive search efforts.

Flight 370 probably flew into the southern Indian Ocean on autopilot with an unresponsive crew, Australian authorities said last month.

During the early phase of the search for Flight 370, aircraft and ships scoured vast stretches of the surface of the southern Indian Ocean but found no debris.

Pings initially thought to be from the missing plane’s flight recorders led to a concentrated underwater search that turned up nothing.

A new underwater search, farther south, will be broadly in an area where planes and vessels had already looked for debris on the surface of the water. It is expected to begin in August.

This story will be updated as more information is found. CNN contributed to this story.

6 comments

  • Dick Peabody

    This is a dammm shame. Everywhere you look is death and misery and terrorists. Hamas fires rockets at Israel and it’s Israel’s fault for retaliating— and that’s but one example. In the last one hundred years, the world has only been safer when America was strong….when it led. Obama’s America is weak and our people are weak. Putin would not likely be in Ukraine if not for Obama. Yet instead of marching on Washington, storming the White House, and stretching his neck at the end of a rope we watch the Kardashians or NFL football and the homosexual players coming out of the closet. Not surprisingly, God has been banished by this government and by the elites “we the people” put in power to rule over us. America, land of the free and home of the brave? Where? I have yet to see even one Four-Star resign in protest to the damage Obama is doing to the military and in the meantime the Huns and Visigoths breech the border with little resistance. May God have mercy.

  • angelina

    The world and humans are out of control god made us with tge intentiin of peace and live and harmony not to hurt and destroy eachother people need ti sit back and remember hiw abd why we are all here to love and take care if eachother not cause pain and despair if everyone dud this instead of being self centered and selfish the wirld would nor be like this we need to help eachother nit fight iver teritories its stupid if each race, faith,country, did this there would be no blood shed no hunger no homelessness we are being watched and judged by our actions why nit be praised for our kindness and love and the world be in harmony and see what great thungs can come if it be kind to all

  • Codswallop Hogwash

    Angelina, much as I would like to believe you, the World has never been that way. Christians used to slaughter other Christians, Muslims, or anyone who offended them until Christianity developed into Protestantism. After that, much less so. Muslims still slaughter each other at an appalling rate with no respect for anyone.
    The only thing that wins in these wars is strength. That is why when George Bush went into Iraq and Afghanistan, he sent a clear message to Muslim Terrorists – You attack us and will will devastate you.
    It is time to give them another punch in the nose, but Obama won’t do it.

  • Tim McLarney

    “Reacting to the breaking story, Richard Quest, an aviation expert, said that it would “extremely unusual” for an airliner at 32,000 feet to be shot down. From the ground, one could simply look up and tell whether a plane was a commercial aircraft.”

    I’d be interested to know the basis of Mr Quest’s “expertise”.

    He has mis-stated the altitude of the stricken plane, saying that it was at 32,000 feet; when all other reports have stated that it was at 33,000.

    We don’t know WHO fired the missile, as far as I know, nor where the aircraft was in relation to the missile being fired, if indeed it WAS a missile.

    If one assumed that it WAS a Buk missile, with the ability to reach into the 70,000 foot regime, it probably had a lateral range of 30-50 miles, but I have not seen any reports that state the Buk’s capabilities laterally.

    Suffice to say that given RADAR, a Buk launch crew doesn’t normally WAIT to see a target, before launching the missile.

    When I flew with American Airlines, we sometimes had some of our aircraft used as military charters for troop transport. Thus, civilian aircraft WERE military aircraft. Some military aircraft are based upon a civilian aircraft, such as the KC-10 tanker.

    When one is on the ground, on a clear day, and one sees a set of contrails pass overhead, it’s generally difficult to state with certainty what type of aircraft one is seeing. The 747 has a fairly unique shape to its’ contrails, so those are easy for someone who is familiar with them, to identify.

    But for most, 4 contrails is a 4-engine aircraft, and 2 contrails is a twin-engine, and that’s about all one can say. An aircraft passing overhead without contrails, in the 30,000-foot regime, is tough to ID as a particular model, for most people. You’re talking about trying to identify an item that is 5-6 miles from you.

    So, Mr Quest… if YOU think that it’s easy to discern the type of aircraft that’s flying overhead in the 30,000′s, with the naked eye, when some military aircraft are externally almost the same as some civilian models, I think you are flat out wrong.

    I KNOW that you are wrong, because I was a military fighter pilot for 5 years, in the F/A-18, and I flew commercially for 19 years; and I watched a LOT of airplanes go by with far less than 30,000 feet of vertical separation. I KNOW hard difficult it can be, to determine whether an aircraft flying overhead is one sort, or another.

  • Sean

    Note that the journo-shmournos are ignoring the elephant in the room, hoping we won’t notice: namely, that both of the destroyed planes were MALAYSIAN. So it would be interesting to investigate what Malaysia has done to deserve such retribution, is it, for example, their alternative international court of justice which is demanding George W. Bush be tried for war crimes? How far would the USA go/is the USA going in neutralizing Malaysia?
    We cannot rely on the journo-shmournos to do the research of course they’re hysterically trumpeting the Washington DC / London smears.

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