All 295 people on board of Malaysia Airlines MH17 flight are believed dead as the plane crashed in east Ukraine, amid claims of a missile attack.
There are no signs of survivors on the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur at the scene of the crash near the village of Grabovo, in rebel-held territory close to the border with Russia.
Both sides in Ukraine’s civil conflict accused each other of shooting down the plane with a missile. It is still not clear why the plane came down.
It is the second disaster suffered by Malaysia Airlines this year.
Flight MH370 disappeared en route from Malaysia to China in April and still has not been found.
At a news conference at Schiphol airport, Malaysia Airlines’ European chief Huib Gorter said that of the passengers that have been identified there were:
- 154 Dutch nationals, 27 Australians, 23 Malaysians, 11 Indonesians
- Six Britons, four Germans, four Belgians, three from the Philippines and one Canadian
- All 15 of the crew were Malaysian
Other airlines have announced they are now avoiding eastern Ukraine.
There are no signs of survivors at the scene of MH17 crash near the village of Grabovo
Malaysian PM Najib Razak spoke of his shock and said he was launching an immediate inquiry into the crash.
“This is a tragic day in what has already been a tragic year for Malaysia,” he said.
US and Ukrainian officials said they believed the plane had been brought down by a missile.
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko said it was an “act of terrorism”.
Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin also said he had intercepted phone conversations that proved the plane was shot down by pro-Russian separatists.
Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed the Ukraine government for restarting military operations in the area, where it is trying to regain control from pro-Russian rebels.
“The country in whose airspace this happened bears responsibility for it,” he said.
Separatist leader Alexander Borodai accused the Ukrainian government of downing the airliner.
Ukraine’s defense ministry issued a statement saying there were no air force jets in the area and no surface-to-air systems being used against the rebels.
The plane fell between Krasni Luch in Luhansk region and Shakhtarsk in the neighboring region of Donetsk.
At least 100 bodies have been found so far at the scene, an emergency services worker told Reuters news agency, with wreckage spread across an area of up to about 9 miles in diameter.
Broken pieces of the wings were marked with the blue and red paint of Malaysian Airlines.
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Ukrainian authorities have closed the airspace in the east of the country to all airline flights, the European flight safety body, Eurocontrol, has announced.
Eurocontrol said all flight plans that use routes in the area are being rejected.
It follows the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 with 295 people on board, amid claims it was shot down.
Flights already airborne are being routed around the area by air traffic control in the region, a Department for Transport spokesperson said.
Flight MH17 was on a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it came down near the village of Grabovo.
The European Cockpit Association (ECA), which represents more than 38,000 European pilots, said the route flown by the crashed Malaysian aircraft was “the most common route for flights from Europe to South East Asia”.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 with 295 people on board crashed in Ukraine, near Russian border
Airline Emirates said its flight EK171 from Dubai to Kiev had returned to Dubai “due to the safety concerns raised with the latest reports on Malaysian flight MH17”.
It added that its flights to Kiev were suspended “with immediate effect, till further notice”.
Emirates said its flights to and from the US and other European destinations used a different route and were outside the zone where the incident involving MH17 occurred.
Lufthansa said it had decided to “fly a wide detour around east Ukrainian airspace with immediate effect”.
The airline said the decision would affect four of its flights on Thursday.
Similarly, Virgin Atlantic said it would re-route “a small number” of its flights on Thursday, following the incident.
British Airways said its flights did not use Ukrainian airspace, with the exception of a once-a-day service between Heathrow and Kiev.
A spokesman for BA said they were keeping those services under review, but that “Kiev is several hundred kilometres from the incident site”.
Abu Dhabi based Etihad said it was unaffected as its planes didn’t fly over the space.
KLM said that as a precautionary measure it already avoided flying over the concerned territory.
And Russian airline Aeroflot said its London to Moscow flights would experience a delay of 30 to 40 minutes on Thursday.
Turkish Airlines has said all of its flights would avoid Ukrainian airspace, while Italy’s Alitalia and Air France said they would divert their flights away from eastern Ukrainian airspace.
France’s junior transport minister Frederic Cuvillier said he had told “French airlines to avoid Ukraine’s air space as long as the reasons behind this catastrophe are not known.”
Flight MH17 had been due to enter Russian airspace when contact was lost.
Both the Ukrainian government and rebels have denied shooting it down in the region close to the Russian border.
Eurocontrol said the aircraft had been flying at Flight Level 330 (approximately 33,000 feet) when it disappeared from the radar.
This route had been closed by the Ukrainian authorities from ground to flight level 320 but had been open at the height level at which the aircraft was flying.
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A Malaysia Airlines plane reportedly with 295 people on board has crashed in Ukraine near the Russian border, on a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia Airlines said it had lost contact with Flight MH17 from Amsterdam and the last known position was over Ukraine, it said in a tweet.
Malaysia Airlines MH17 plane has been found burning on the ground in east Ukraine
An aviation source in Moscow told Reuters the plane had been found burning on the ground in east Ukraine.
Pro-Russian separatist rebels have been fighting government forces in the region.
A number of Ukrainian military planes have been shot down by missiles in recent weeks, with Ukraine accusing Russia’s military of supplying advanced missiles to the rebels.
Earlier on Thursday, Ukrainian officials accused the Russian air force of shooting down one of its ground attack jets on Wednesday.
Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying the plane had been hit by a missile at an altitude of 33,000ft. The claim could not be verified independently.
The source which spoke to Reuters said the plane had failed to enter Russian airspace.
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