A Malaysia Airline Boeing 777 was shot down over the Ukraine, killing 298 passengers and crew. Most were Dutch and Australian. As many as 23 may have been Americans. [UPDATE: Only one American has been identified.] The plane was reportedly brought down by a Russian anti-aircraft missile, and pro-Russian separatists are being blamed.
A surface-to air missile downed a Malaysia Airlines jet in a separatist-controlled corner of eastern Ukraine Thursday, prompting the Ukrainian government to accuse pro-Russian rebels of committing an “act of terror” that killed all 298 people on board.
U.S. intelligence officials confirmed, but could not identify the origins of, the missile attack that led to the deadliest incident in modern memory of the downing of a civilian passenger plane. One Ukrainian government official, however, said the Boeing 777 traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur appeared to have been hit by a Russian-made advanced missile system that recently came into the hands of the pro-Moscow separatists waging a bloody uprising in the east.
In Amsterdam, an audible gasp went up at the news conference Thursday night at Schiphol airport when it was announced that 154 Dutch passengers had been on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. The airline’s senior vice president, Huib Gorter, read out a list of passenger nationalities that included 27 Australians as the next-largest group. All the airplane’s crew was Malaysian, as were 28 passengers. The nationalities of 41 passengers had not been established at the time.
The dramatic loss of yet another Malaysian Airlines flight six months after the enigmatic disappearance of the same carrier’s Flight 370 in March sparked a familiar chain of tragedy across the globe, with distraught family members shuttled to impromptu emergency centers in Asia and Europe.
A recording provided by Ukrainian Security Service purportedly captured separatists conferring about the attack. The Washington Post could not independently verify the authenticity of the recording or the individuals identified in it. One voice on the tape — identified by the Ukrainian intelligence agency as Igor Bezler, one of the leaders in the pro-Russian separatist movement in eastern Ukraine — says a phrase in Russian that can be translated either as “we have just shot down a plane” or “they have just down the plane.”