Malaysian aircraft likely brought down by missile
Eyewitnesses on the ground report seeing a single trail of smoke arcing upwards from the ground, just moments before hearing an explosion and the subsequent crash of the aircraft in pieces on the ground.
July 18, 2014
By Donald Urquhart
The Malaysia Airlines B777-200ER which crashed in eastern Ukraine on Thursday killing all 298 persons aboard was shot down by militants, according to a Ukrainian interior ministry official who was quoted by Interfax-Ukraine news agency. MH17 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, came down near the city of Donetsk, stronghold of pro-Russian rebels, Anton Gerashchenko said, adding that it was hit by a ground-to-air missile. Some media reports have said US intelligence sources have confirmed it was a sophisticated Russian-made, Buk anti-aircraft missile system that brought the aircraft down.
The pro-Russian rebels, the Ukrainian military and Russia have all denied involvement in the aircraft’s crash. Eyewitnesses on the ground however report seeing a single trail of smoke arcing upwards from the ground, just moments before hearing an explosion and the subsequent crash of the aircraft in pieces on the ground. The aircraft was last reported flying at 10,000 metres (33,000) feet which is normal cruising altitude.
It came down at the rebel-held, Eastern Ukraine village of Grabovo, some 40 km (25 miles) from the Russia border, scattering charred wreckage and body parts as far as 15 km from the main crash site. The area has been the scene of fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels. Ukraine has accused Russia of taking an active role in the four-month-old conflict in recent days and accused it earlier on Thursday of shooting down a Ukrainian fighter jet – an accusation that Moscow denied.
Although some airlines had instructed their pilots to avoid the airspace around the conflict zone, the standard air routes over the territory were still considered safe by the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO), for altitudes above 30,000 feet. Since the incident commercial aircraft have been giving the airspace a wide berth as shown by flight tracking websites like flightradar24.com.