Malaysia airliner crash

CNC
Added On July 18, 2014

A Malaysia Airlines jetliner has allegedly been shot down in eastern Ukraine. All 298 people onboard were killed, more than half of which were Dutch nationals. 

The plane was flying over Ukraine's rebel-held territory when it crashed in an area near the Russian border. 

Both sides in Ukraine's ongoing civil conflict have accused the other of shooting down the plane with a missile. 

This is all that remains of the Boeing 777 jetliner, after it crashed in fields near the Ukrainian village of Hrabove, 40 km from the Russian border on Thursday.

Pieces of burning and charred wreckage can be seen scattered everywhere.

SOUNDBITE (RUSSIAN): Eyewitness

"I saw people falling. It looked like debris was falling, but it turned out to be people. They fell like rags."

 Malaysian Airlines confirmed that the plane was carrying a total 298 people including 283 passengers and 15 crew. Among the passengers were three infants. 

At least 173 of the people onboard were Dutch citizens. Forty-four were Malaysians, including all 15 crew onboard. There were also 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians, nine British, four Germans, four Belgians, three Filipinos and one Canadian. One Hong Kong resident was also believed to be onboard. There were still 20 remaining to be verified.

The flight, MH-17, was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The route was declared safe by the International Civil Aviation Organization and the plane did not make a distress call. 

In a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said that only "in the hours before the incident, a number of other passenger aircraft from different carriers used the same route" and the MH-17 crew didn't receive any last-minute instructions to change the route of the flight.

Earlier on Friday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak promised that no stone will be left unturned in finding out what happened...Adding that Ukrainian authorities believe the plane was shot down.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): NAJIB RAZAK, Malaysian Prime Minister

"If it transpires that the plane was indeed shot down, we insist that the perpetrators must swiftly be brought to justice."

Relatives of those onboard have been arriving at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, to seek news of their loved ones.

It is the second tragedy to hit Malaysia Airlines this year. It comes after Flight 370 disappeared on March 8 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The plane has still not been found. 

Meanwhile. the exact cause of Thursday's crash remains unclear. 

Reports citing U.S. intelligence officials say a surface-to-air missile took down the plane. But it's not clear who fired it and from where. 

Kiev and pro-Moscow rebels, who're locked in fierce fighting in the region, are trading accusations. While both sides deny any involvement.

Kiev complained that separatists prevented its officials from reaching the site. The area is being held by rebel forces who claim to have found the black box flight recorders from the plane.

Following the crash, several carriers and countries including China and the United States have ordered all aircraft to avoid the Ukrainian airspace.

NETHERLANDS IN MOURNING

The Netherlands is in mourning following the news that 154 of its citizens were onboard the Malaysian plane that crashed on Thursday.

In response, the Dutch prime minister on Friday announced a day of national mourning.

People have flocked to the Dutch embassy in Kiev to mourn the crash victims.

As they laid flowers and lit candles, many were visibly stunned by the disaster...distraught and sobbing.

The crash resulted in the second biggest loss of Dutch lives in an airplane disaster, after a horrific crash involving two Boeing 747 jumbo jets on the Canary Island of Tenerife that killed 238 Dutch nationals in 1977.

INT'L INVESTIGATION DEMANDED 

As mystery continues to shroud the cause of the Malaysian Airliner crash, the international community has demanded a full and transparent investigation.

The UN Security Council has planned an emergency meeting on Ukraine on Friday.

And the chief of the world body has thrown his weight behind a transparent international probe. 

SOUNDBITE (English): BAN KI-MOON, UN Secretary-general

"With respect to the Malaysia Airlines disaster today in Ukraine, I am closely monitoring the reports, along with the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations agency. There is clearly a need for a full and transparent international investigation. For the moment, I offer my deep condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims and people of Malaysia."

The Interstate Aviation Committee or IAC on Friday said an international investigative commission should be organized under the aegis of the International Civil Aviation Organization. And the crashed aircraft's flight recorders should be handed over to the commission.

SOUNDBITE (RUSSIAN) SERGEI ZAIKO, Deputy Head of the Interstate Aviation Committee

"Understanding the difficulty in the situation in the area of the catastrophe of the Malaysian airlines Boeing-777, we consider it necessary to create an international investigation commission, which could be established under the authority of the International Civil Aviation Organization and to pass on to it all the flight recorders, the so-called black boxes, for investigation under the control of this international organization."

The black boxes have been reportedly found by militias in Eastern Ukraine. But according to Andrei Purgin, first deputy prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, the plane's flight recorders would be handed over to Moscow for testing. 

The crash of MH-17 drew immediate response from the international community. Russian President Vladimir Putin called the crash a "tragedy". He blamed Kiev for raising tensions in eastern Ukraine by renewing its offensive against the rebels. 

SOUNDBITE(RUSSIAN)VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russian President

"In this regard, I would like to note that this tragedy would not have occurred if there were peace in that country, or in any case, if hostilities had not resumed in southeast Ukraine. And certainly, the government over whose territory it occurred is responsible for this terrible tragedy.

The claim was rejected by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. He said the country's armed forces did not fire at any flying object in the region where the plane went down.

Meanwhile, the United States has called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine to facilitate the international probe. 

President Barack Obama said U.S. officials will do all they can to support a prompt and unimpeded investigation.  

He also stressed that evidence from the crash must remain in Ukraine so international investigators can have a chance to examine it. 

The disaster has also plunged Australia into shock, after at least 27 Australians have been confirmed onboard.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the incident marked "a grim day for Australia". 

He also held pro-Russia separatists responsible. 

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said China was shocked by the crash and hoped that the cause could be verified as soon as possible.

Beijing has also conveyed deep condolences to the victims' families.