A Malaysian Airlines plane carrying 295 people, including 27 Australians, has been shot down in rebel-held eastern Ukraine, with reports saying the jet was shot down at 33,oo0ft.
The 1997 Boeing 777-2H6 (ER) C/N 28411 (9M-MRD) was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it disappeared from radar and came down near Torez in the region of Donetsk. It remains unclear as to who fired the SAM.
The Malaysian Airlines flight appears to have been shot down by a surface-to-air missile called a BUK, a relic from the Soviet era, Britain’s Telegraph reports.
An Australian passport has apparently been found in the plane wreck of Malaysian Airline MH17 which was allegedly shot down while carrying 295 passengers.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko accused pro-Russian insurgents of shooting down the jet and described it as a “terrorist act”.
Poroshenko stated on the downed plane: “This incident is not a catastrophe. It is a terrorist act.”
All 280 passengers and 15 crew members on board the plane are believed to have died.
Horrifying images have emerged on social media showing dozens of severely mutilated corpses strewn in the plane wreckage.
Debris was spread out for kilometres and the tail of the passenger jet lay in a corn field with the Malaysian Airlines insignia on it. Rebel fighters and several fire trucks were seen nearby the crash site.
Poroshenko expressed his “deepest and sincerest sympathies for the families and loved ones of those killed” and vowed that “those behind this tragedy will be brought to justice.”
Vladimir Putin has been reported to say that he believed that he may have been the target of Ukraine forces, as he flew through the area at the same time as MH-17. The validity of this statement has not been confirmed, and may be an attempt by Russia to deflect blame over the incident.
The plane crashed in a region where pro-Russian rebels have been engaging Ukrainian army forces in recent weeks, even reportedly shooting down some Ukrainian air force planes.
But the rebel leaders have denied any involvement in the Malaysian Airlines crash and pledged to allow “international experts” access to the crash site.
Malaysian Airlines confirmed that it had “lost contact” with one its planes in Ukrainian airspace.
The rebels suspected of carrying out the attack on MH17 are now likely to become some of the world’s most wanted men.
The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic is reported to have initially taken to Twitter to claim responsibility for downing an aircraft, but those tweets were later removed.
But the pro-Russian group which controls parts of eastern Ukraine is already said to have shot down four Ukrainian military aircraft in the last week alone.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, with both the government in Kiev and pro-Russia separatists officially denying any involvement.
But that will not stop the international finger of blame pointing towards the rebel forces operating in the region.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has already described the disaster as a deliberate act.
“I would like to bring your attention to the fact that we are not calling it an accident, or a disaster, but an act of terrorism,” said Mr Poroshenko.
While demands by the Malaysian Prime Minister Mr Najib Razak that “perpetrators must swiftly be brought to justice” will increase pressure for an international response.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has also called for justice: “If a surface to air missile is involved, it is not an accident – it’s a crime and the perpetrators must be brought swiftly to justice.”
It is the belief of this writer that if the aircradft was shot down by pro-Russian separatists using Russian supplied SAM missiles, then Russia (and thus Putin) is implicated in this terrorist action and must ultimately accept responsibility and the repercussions associated with the incident.
More to follow.
Source: www9news.com.au; Photo: Jeroen Stroes