Malaysian plane reportedly shot down in Ukraine near Russian border


Emergencies Ministry members work at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in Grabovo, Ukraine, in the Donetsk region, July 17, 2014. Maxim Zmeyev / Reuters

A Malaysian passenger airliner with 295 people on board crashed in Ukraine near the Russian border, Interfax cited an aviation industry source as saying on Thursday.

Malaysia Airlines confirmed on its Twitter feed that it had lost contact with Flight MH17 that was traveling from Amsterdam, adding that “the last known position was over Ukrainian airspace.”

Malaysia Airlines also said in a statement that it received notification from Ukrainian air traffic control that it lost contact with the plane, a Boeing 777, about 31 miles from the Russia-Ukraine border.

The flight was carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew, the airline confirmed. Dozens of bodies were scattered around the smoldering wreckage in eastern Ukraine, Reuters reported.

An emergency services rescue worker told Reuters at least 100 bodies had so far been found at the scene, in the village of Grabovo, about 25 miles from the Russian border.

Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak said on his Twitter page that he was “shocked” by the reports of the crash and that the government was “launching an immediate investigation.”

Meanwhile, the Malaysia Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai is rushing back to Kuala Lumpur from Beijing, Al Jazeera has confirmed.

The self-appointed prime minister of the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, Alexander Borodai, told Al Jazeera that he is headed to the location of the downed plane and that a Donetsk People’s Republic investigation team was now in the area.

Borodai also blamed the downing of the plane on the country’s government forces.

“Apparently, it’s a passenger airliner indeed, truly shot down by the Ukrainian Air Force,” Borodai told Russia’s state-run Rossiya 24 TV broadcaster. Kiev denied the involvement of Ukraine’s armed forces.

Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Minister, said on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet when it was hit by a missile fired from a Buk surface-to-air missile system which Russia began producing in the mid-1990s.

That flight, according to the aviation tracking website, was scheduled to arrive in Kuala Lumpur at 6:10 a.m. local time.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin said that Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama discussed the plane crash in Ukraine during a phone call.

The development comes a day after the Ukrainian military said a Russian jet shot down a Ukrainian air force plane that was on military operations over eastern Ukraine, where government forces are fighting to quell a pro-Russian rebellion.

The incident also comes after a Malaysia Airlines plane went mising on March 8 on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board. It has not been found.

Al Jazeera and wire services