- Malaysian Airlines passenger jet shot down over Ukrainian/ Russian border
- The jet had 295 passengers on board and was travelling at 33,000 feet
A Malaysian Airlines passenger plane has been shot down on the Russian-Ukraine border, killing all 295 people on board, according to a Ukrainian interior ministry official.
Flight MH17, which was carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew, was flying between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpar after taking off leaving at lunchtime today.
The Interfax news agency reported that the aircraft went missing near Donetsk, where pro-Russian rebels have been fighting Ukrainian government forces for several weeks.
TV pictures from the scene showed a pall of smoke billowing into the sky apparently from the stricken aircraft.
It is believed the plane was struck by BUK surface-to-air missile at 33,000ft around 20 miles before entering Russian airspace.
A Malaysian Airlines passenger jet is thought to have been shot down over the Ukraine / Russian border
The shoulder-launched Russian-made BUK surface-to-air missile can be packed into a golf bag and assembled and fired very rapidly by one person with minimal training.
Defence experts have expressed fears in the past they could be used to target at civil aircraft.
A similar launcher was seen by Associated Press journalists near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne earlier today.
However, defence analyst Major Charles Heyman, who edited a book called Armed Forces of the European Union, believes it could have been downed by a ‘slack’ Ukraine air defence centre.
He told Sky News: ‘It looks like confusion. It’s possible that Ukraine thought it was hostile and not civilian and shot it down.’
Malaysian Airlines said they have no information about any survivors.
In a tweet, the airline said: ‘Malaysia Airlines has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam. The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace. More details to follow.’
The jet would have been flying at high altitude on an intercontinental flight that took it over the crisis hit region of Ukraine, where the authorities have accused Russia-backed separatists of previous attacks on aircraft.
Earlier today the Ukrainian authorities said one of their fighter jets was shot down by an air-to-air missile from a Russian plane and Ukrainian troops were fired upon by missiles from a village inside Russia.
The alleged episodes mark what Ukraine says is mounting evidence that Moscow is directly supporting separatist insurgents in eastern Ukraine who have substantial quantities of powerful weapons.
Ukraine said a military transport plane was shot down Monday by a missile fired from Russian territory. Security Service chief Valentyn Nalyvaichenko said he had “unconditional evidence” that Russia was involved in downing that aircraft.
The crash comes three months after the mysterious disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 which is though to have crashed into the Indian Occean.
Two weeks ago, investigators say what little evidence they have to work with suggests the plane was deliberately diverted thousands of kilometres from its scheduled route before eventually plunging into the Indian Ocean.
The search was narrowed in April after a series of acoustic pings thought to be from the plane’s black box recorders were heard along a final arc where analysis of satellite data put its last location.
But a month later, officials conceded the wreckage was not in that concentrated area, some 1,000 miles off the northwest coast of Australia, and the search area would have to be expanded.
The next phase of the search is expected to start in August and take a year, covering some 60,000 sq km at a cost of AU$60 million ($56 million) or more. The search is already the most expensive in aviation history.
The new priority search area is around 2,000km west of Perth, a stretch of isolated ocean frequently lashed by storm force winds and massive swells.