295 killed after Malaysian airliner shot down in Ukraine

A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 295 people aboard was reportedly hit by a missile and crashed Thursday in Ukraine near the Russian border, according to an adviser to Ukraine's interior ministry.

Anton Gerashenko, the adviser, says on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet when it was hit Thursday by a missile fired from a Buk launcher, the Associated Press reports.

A similar launcher was seen by AP journalists near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne earlier Thursday.

U.S. intelligence officials confirmed that the flight had been downed by a radar-guided missile, although they were not in agreement where it originated. It was "not an accident, it was blown out of the sky,'' said Vice President Joe Biden.

HISTORY: Malaysia Airlines has long history, won many awards

It was no immediately clear who would have been in control of such a launcher in the restive area where Ukrainian forces are battling ethnic Russian separatists.

Malaysia Airlines said on Twitter that it "has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam. The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace."

An Associated Press journalist has counted at least 22 bodies at the plane wreckage site in eastern Ukraine involving a Malaysia Airlines commercial flight.

The plane appeared to have broken up before impact and the wreck is scattered over a wide area in the eastern Ukraine village of Grabovo, and the field around the burning wreck was strewn with body parts and the belongings of the passengers, the Associated Press reported.

Russia's Interfax news agency, quoting an unidentified aviation source, said Malaysia Airlines flies an Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur route that crosses Ukraine and Russian territory.

The unidentified source, according to Interfax, said the plane was 30 miles from Russian airspace when it began to go down. It said the burning wreckage of the plane was found on the ground in Ukraine.

The report, quoting the aviation source, says there were 280 passengers and 15 crew members aboard.

Ukraini President Petro Poroshenko believes the plane crash was not an accident. Svyatoslav Tsegolko, the press secretary for Poroshenko, posted the following on his verified Twitter account:

"#Poroshenko on downing of the passenger plane: We call it neither an incident, nor a disaster, but a terrorist act #MalaysiaAirlines"


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