Malaysian plane crashes in Ukraine, 298 feared dead

MH370

Smoke rises at the crash site of MH17 near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine. Photo by AP/Dmitry Lovetsky

The United Nations will hold an emergency meeting Friday about the Malaysia airline crash, according to CCTV’s Liling Tan at the organization’s headquarters in New York.

MH17 crashed in an area rife with fighting between Ukrainian troops and separatists. According to the AP, the separatists will allow up to three days of ceasefire in eastern Ukraine for recovery work.

According to a Malaysia Airlines statement, a total of 298 passengers were on board the plane, including three infants, with breakdown as follows:

Netherlands 154
Malaysia 45 (including 15 crew, 2 infants)
Australia 27
Indonesia 12 (including 1 infant)
United Kingdom 9
Germany 4
Belgium 4
Philippines 3
Canada 1
Unverified 41

Reuters reports the wreckage area is about 15 km (nine miles) in diameter, according to an emergency services rescue worker.

Malaysia Airlines MH17 Crash

Malaysia Airlines says it lost contact with a plane that was flying in Ukrainian airspace.

Ukraine Plane
Ukraine Plane
Ukraine Plane
Ukraine Plane
Ukraine Plane
Ukraine Plane
APTOPIX Ukraine Plane
APTOPIX Ukraine Plane

It’s unclear if the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 jet carrying 295 people went down due to mechanical or human error, or if it was shot down. However, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Thursday called the downing of MH17 in Ukrainian airspace an “act of terrrorism.”

Earlier in the day, the AP reported that Poroshenko said the country’s armed forces “did not take action against any airborne targets.” Ukrainian separatists also denied shooting down the passenger plane.

On Thursday afternoon U.S. President Barack Obama offered assistance in determining the cause of the crash. “And, as a country, our thought and prayers are all the families of the passengers, wherever they call home,” he said.

However, 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 near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne earlier Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

The plane had departed Amsterdam and was destined for Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia Airlines said on its Twitter feed that it had lost contact with MH17. Song Yiping of CCTV Mandarin reports that the Ukrainian aviation authority has canceled all flights to Kiev.

MH17_Crash_map

CLICK HERE FOR MORE CCTV COVERAGE ON MALAYSIA AIRLINES FLIGHT MH17

On twitter, Malaysian Prime Minister Mohd Najib Tun Razak vowed quick action.

The New York Times, citing an Interfax report, said the plane came down 20 miles short of entering Russian airspace.

Data from FlightRadar24.com, a realtime flight tracking site, shows planes visibly redirecting around Donetsk region where MH17 went down. Red added for emphasis.

malaysia-airlines-mh17-red-circle

The site also tweeted MH17’s dozen last-known coordinates.

This report was compiled with information from The Associated Press.