Breaking news indicates that yet another Malaysian Airlines plane has been lost. Malaysia Airlines confirmed in a Tweet that it "has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam. The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace. More details to follow."
Later reports have now suggested that flight MH 17 was shot down and has crashed near a town in the eastern half of the country. It was carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew members, all of whom are thought to have been killed in the crash.
Reports from newswire Reuters and publication The Telegraph reported that a Malaysian Airlines Boeing aircraft, which was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, “began to descend about 50km before entering Russian airspace, and was subsequently found burning on the ground in Ukraine.”
Anton Gerashenko, an advisor in the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs, posted on his Facebook page that the plane had been brought down by Russia’s Buk missile system.
Associated Press journalists confirmed that a launcher had been seen near the Ukrainian town of Snizhne early on Thursday; missiles launched from the Buk missile launchers can hit targets up to an altitude of 22,000 meters (72,000 feet) and MH17 was thought to be flying at an altitude of 10,000meters (33,000 feet).
The crash site is located in a very volatile area which has experienced terrible battles between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia separatist rebels over the past few days and there have been other aircraft casualties: a Ukrainian fighter jet was also shot down on Wednesday evening via an air-to-air missile, and a military transport plane was shot down Monday by a missile fired from Russian territory.
Ukraine’s president has stated that his country’s armed forces were not responsible for bringing down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17:
President Petro Poroshenko says 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."
The Malaysian President Najib Razak said ‘I am shocked by reports that an MH plane crashed. We are launching an immediate investigation.”
Plane crashes are relatively rare occurrences, so for a single airline to lose two planes in suspicious circumstances within the space of four months is almost unprecedented. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared in March whilst en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and has never been found, though the search to find any evidence continues.
Our thoughts are with the relatives and friends who have lost loved ones on both flights.