Malaysian Airlines MH17 passenger plane carrying 295 people 'shot down with ground-to-air missile' at 33,000ft over Ukraine near to Russian border
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come." 2 Timothy 3:1. "Disasters by rail will become more and more frequent. Confusion, collision, and death without a moment’s warning will occur on the great lines of travel. The end is near, probation is closing. Oh, let us seek God while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near!" Last Day Events, p. 24. -Advent Messenger Commentary
Fox News | July 17, 2014
A Malaysia Airlines passenger plane with 295 aboard was shot down by a surface-to-air missile in Ukraine near the Russian border a day after a Ukrainian military jet was downed, Fox News has confirmed.
The Boeing 777 enroute from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down at cruising altitude, according to Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine's Interior Minister. He said it was carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew, all of whom were killed. A Reuters correspondent near the scene reported seeing burning wreckage and bodies strewn across a nine-mile debris field. A Ukrainian Emergency official told the news agency body parts and at least 100 bodies were seen in the area.
The incident touched off immediate finger-pointing between Russian separatists and the Ukrainian government. Eastern Ukraine separatist leader Alexander Borodai told Reuters that Ukrainian military forces shot the jet down, but Kiev denied involvement.
"The President of Ukraine on behalf of the State expresses its deepest and most sincere condolences to the families and relatives of those killed in this terrible tragedy," said a statement released by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's office. "Every possible search and rescue effort is being made."
KT McFarland, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan, and a Fox News national security analyst said the attack was most likely the work of Russian separatists, not the Russian or Ukrainian armies.
“I think it’s far more likely it was rebel forces in eastern Ukraine trying to get the Russian back involved," McFarland said.
But retired Army Lt. Col Ralph Peters, also a Fox News contributor, said it is unlikely the Russian military would have put missile batteries capable of knocking a plane out of the sky at such an altitude in the hands of rebels.
"It wasn't the separatists, although Russia will try to blame them, or blame the Ukrainians," Peters said. "The Russians have not given the separatists complex, high-altitude air-defense systems. If this airliner was flying at 34,000 feet or any altitude close to that, it was shot down by Russian military air-defense systems perched on the Ukrainian border.
Peters said the Russian military has been shooting down Ukrainian military aircraft in recent weeks, and most likely mistook the airliner for a Ukrainian military aircraft.
"Russia has a small number of elite forces, but most of the Russian military is ill-trained, sloppy and marginally disciplined.," he said. "With no Western response to them shooting down Ukrainian aircraft, they just got trigger happy."
The airline, which saw one of its fleet disappear over the Indian Ocean in March, confirmed only that "an incident" had occurred involving the Boeing 777.
“Malaysia Airlines has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam," read a tweet from the airline. "The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace. More details to follow,” read a tweet from Malaysia Airlines’ account.
Gerashenko wrote on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet when it was hit. The missile was believed to have been fired from a Russian Buk launcher. A similar launcher was seen by Associated Press journalists near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne earlier Thursday. The Ukraine military is believed to have the launchers, but the Russian military, which has backed the separatists, has them and also may have given them to separatists.
The Donetsk region government said Thursday's plane crashed near a village called Grabovo, which it said is currently under the control of armed pro-Russian separatists. The area has been a flashpoint to the larger dispute between Ukraine and ethnic Russian separatists. Fighting has intensified in recent months in the region. A day before, according to the Ukrainian government, a Russian military plane shot down a Ukrainian fighter jet in Ukrainian airspace.
Pentagon Spokesman Col. Steve Warren said he was aware of reports of the downed passenger jet in Ukraine,but did not have further information.
A senior White House official said President Obama has been briefed on the incident. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said whether it was intentional or accidental it is an "international incident" when a passenger jet is shot down. McCaul said he believed only a military grade weapon could have downed the plane.
The Boeing jets are equipped with twin Rolls-Royce Trent engines, typically cruises at 35,000 feet at speeds up to 639 miles per hour.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with those on board the Malaysia Airlines airplane lost over Ukrainian airspace, as well as their families and loved ones,” Boeing said in a statement. “Boeing stands ready to provide whatever assistance is requested by authorities.”
On March 8, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, also a Boeing 777 and carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew on a route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, disappeared somewhere over the ocean. It has not been found.