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Another Malaysian plane crashes

Associated Press • Jul 17, 2014 at 9:53 PM

UPDATE 3:22 p.m. —

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — President Barack Obama said Thursday that the passenger plane downed over Ukraine "looks like it may be a terrible tragedy" and his top priority is finding out whether American citizens were on board.

Obama said he's directed his aides to stay in close contact with Ukrainian officials and offer U.S. help to determine what caused the crash. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called the downing of the Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 295 people an act of terrorism.

An Associated Press journalist counted at least 22 bodies at the crash site about 25 miles from the Russian border, where government and pro-Moscow separatists have been fighting.

Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister, said on his Facebook page that the plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet when it was hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher.

Obama press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama was on a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin when news of the downed plane broke. Earnest and the Kremlin said Putin mentioned those early reports in the call, but provided no details of what the two leaders said about it.

"The world is watching reports of a downed passenger jet near the Russia-Ukraine border," Obama said later as he took the stage for a speech in Delaware to discuss transportation funding. "It looks like it might be a terrible tragedy. Right now we're working to determine whether there were American citizens on board. That is our first priority."

The rest of the phone call between Obama and Putin was dedicated to the general situation in eastern Ukraine, and recent U.S. sanctions against Russian individuals and companies.

The Federal Aviation Administration had warned U.S. pilots earlier this year not to fly over portions of the Ukraine in the Crimea region, according to notices posted on the agency's website.

The notices were posted on April 23. The U.N.'s International Civil Aviation Organization and the aviation authorities in most countries issue similar notices for areas where unrest or military conflict creates a risk of being shot down.

UPDATE 12:30 p.m. —

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Ukraine's president says his country's armed forces did not shoot at any airborne targets, after reports that a Malaysian Airlines plane went down over Ukraine.

President Petro Poroshenko says Thursday "we do not exclude that this plane was shot down, and we stress that the Armed Forces of Ukraine did not take action against any airborne targets."

Poroshenko said "we are sure that those who are guilty in this tragedy will be held responsible."


KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — A Ukrainian official said a Malaysian passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday over a town in the east of the country.

Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine's Interior Minister, said on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters (33,000 feet) when it was hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher. A similar launcher was seen by Associated Press journalists near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne earlier Thursday.

Malaysia Airlines said on its Twitter feed that it "has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam. The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace. More details to follow."

More updates as information becomes available.

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