Malaysian airliner ‘shot down’ over Ukraine
An Interfax report suggests pro-Russian separatists hit an airliner carrying 295 people, killing all.
MOSCOW/KIEV - A Malaysian airliner was shot down over eastern Ukraine by militants on Thursday, killing all 295 people aboard, a Ukrainian interior ministry official was quoted as saying by the Interfax-Ukraine news agency.
The aircraft, which other sources said was a Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, came down near the city of Donetsk, a stronghold of pro-Russian rebels, Anton Gerashchenko said.
Gerashchenko was quoted as saying, "A civilian airliner travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur has just been shot down by a Buk anti-aircraft system ... 280 passengers and 15 crew have been killed."
Interfax-Ukraine quoted another Ukrainian official as saying the plane disappeared from radar when it was flying at 10,000 metres, a typical cruising altitude for airliners.
It came down at Torez, near Shakhtersk, some 40 kilometres from the Russia border. The area has been the scene of fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels.
Ukraine has accused Russia of taking an active role in the four-month-old conflict in recent days and accused it earlier on Thursday of shooting down a Ukrainian fighter jet - an accusation that Moscow denied.
Eastern Ukraine separatist leader Alexander Borodai says the airliner was in fact shot down by Ukrainian government forces but Interfax has quoted Kiev's presidential press service as saying its armed forces were not involved.
Ukrainian Prime Minster Arseniy Yatsenyuk has ordered an investigation into what he described as the "airplane catastrophe".
A Reuters correspondent on the scene of the crash has reported seeing burning wreckage of an airplane and bodies on the ground.
An emergency ministry official also on the scene says there are body parts scattered around up to 15 kilometres from the crash site.
Malaysia Airlines has confirmed that it lost contact with MH17, it has not explicitly stated that it was involved in a crash.
A video of smoke billowing from a field has emerged on YouTube but has not been verified as legitimate footage of the wreckage.
The news comes as the mystery surrounding Flight MH370 drags on past the four-month mark.
The Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 left Kuala Lumpur in the early hours of 8 March destined for Beijing, China.
The aircraft soon disappeared with no known cause and remains completely missing.