Malaysia Airlines plane crash kills 298

Inflicting a severe blow to the financially struggling Malaysia Airlines, its Boeing 777 passenger jet crashed over eastern Ukraine yesterday, killing 298 people on board, more than half which are Dutch citizens.

Just four months ago, another Malaysia Airlines plane MH370 also a Boeing 777, carrying 239 people on board, most of them Chinese, disappeared on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing (See: Malaysia Airlines plane with 239 vanishes over South China Sea).

Yesterday, the plane, MH17, disappeared from radar at 10,000 metres and then crashed near the city of Shaxtarsk in the Donetsk region, while travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

It is believed to have been shot down over a town in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing all people aboard.

The plane which took off at 12:14 from Amsterdam was scheduled to reach its destination at 06:10.

According to US officials, the plane was shot down using soviet-built BUK surface-to-air missile system. The Buk missile system can fire missiles up to an altitude of 22,000 metres.

Ukraine blames pro-Russian rebels for the action while Russian President Vladimir Putin says that Ukraine bears the responsibility for the crash.

The region has seen severe fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia separatist rebels in recent days.

''Just now near Torez, terrorists used a Buk missile system kindly provided by Putin to shoot down a civilian plane,'' Gerashchenko said on Facebook.

Pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine denied shooting down the airliner and blamed Ukrainian armed forces, though Ukraine's president denied his country's armed forces shooting at airborne targets.

The pro-Russia rebel group in the Donetsk People's Republic said it would turn over the recovered flight recorders to ''high-class experts'' in Moscow to determine the cause of the crash.

Ukranian President Petro Poroshenko said Thursday ''we do not exclude that this plane was shot down, and we stress that the Armed Forces of Ukraine did not take action against any airborne targets.''

Poroshenko said ''we are sure that those who are guilty in this tragedy will be held responsible.''

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said he is launching an ''immediate investigation'' into reports of the crash. Defence minister Hishamuddin Hussein tweeted that there is no confirmation that the plane was shot down. He said he has instructed the country's military to check and get confirmation.

President Putin spoke with the Malaysian prime minister Thursday, expressing his ''deep condolences,'' according to a Kremlin news release.

Russia Today posted an ''eyewitness photo'' of debris at the crash site, showing two people standing on a piece of the plane, with its windows and door intact.

There were around 154 Dutch, 27 Australian, 11 Malaysian, 11 Indonesian passengers among the total list of 283 and 15 were crew members.

Malaysia Airlines said that it would release the full details of those on board later today.

The Malaysian prime minister said that the airline did not make any distress call and ordered an enquiry into the incident.

The US secretary of state John Kerry called for a thorough and impartial investigation and offered US assistance.

The crash site is spread over 1-km wide area with dozens of mutilated bodies and plane parts and debris spread around.

Despite intense search operations on land and sea, there is no clue of the incident so far.

Several airlines including Aeroflot, Lufthansa, American Airlines, Air India and others have re-routed their international flights over Ukraine with immediate effect.

The Boeing 777 aircraft is valued at around $104 million according to insurance brokers. German insurance giant Allianz is the lead hull and liability reinsurer, while Atrium Underwriting Group is the leader for war coverage, which could pay claims if the damage is tied to terrorism.

In the wake of the MH370 mishap, Malaysia Airlines started offering high commissions of 3 per cent to travel agents to lure more passengers to return and the move appeared to be working. However, the latest tragedy may reverse the trend, according to analysts.

Ukrainian rebels shoot down Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people

Tragedy struck Malaysian Airlines again when its Boeing 777 aircraft carrying 295 people was

The Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in the settlement of Grabovo near the town of Shaktarsk in the Donetsk region in separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine.

Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister, said on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 10,000 metres when it was hit by a missile apparently fired from a Buk launcher.

The plane appeared to have broken up under the impact and the burning wreckage and body parts and the belongings of passengers were scattered over a wide area, reports said.
 
Unverified footage posted to YouTube appeared to show plumes of black smoke rising from the crash site near the rebel-held village of Grabovo in eastern Ukraine, 40 kilometres from the Russian border.

Emergency officials on site reported body parts were scattered as far as 15 kilometres away from the crash site, according to a tweet from Reuters.

The loss of MH17 is the second disaster for Malaysia Airlines this year, after the mysterious loss of flight MH370, which disappeared in March with 239 passengers and crew on board on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.