via Fox News
A Malaysian Airlines passenger plane with 295 aboard was shot down by a surface-to-air missile in Ukraine near the Russian border, according to multiple reports.
The airline, which saw one of its fleet disappear over the Indian Ocean in March, confirmed only that “an incident” had occurred involving the Boeing 777, which was en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam.
“Malaysia Airlines has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam,” read a tweet from the airline. “The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace. More details to follow,” read a tweet from Malaysia Airlines’ account.
Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said he has directed the country’s Ministry of Defense to investigate the incident, according to a message on his Twitter account. He said he could not confirm that the plane was shot down.
But multiple reports, including from Russia’s Interfax news agency, said the plane was shot down at cruising altitude. Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Minister told The Associated press that the plane, carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew people onboard, was shot down.
Gerashenko says on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet when it was hit Thursday by a missile fired from a Buk launcher. A similar launcher was seen by Associated Press journalists near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne earlier Thursday.
The adviser also told Russian news agency Interfax that all onboard have been killed.
The border area where the plane apparently went down, near the city of Kremenchuk, has been embroiled in the larger dispute between Ukraine and ethnic Russian separatists. Fighting has intensified in recent months in the region. A day before, according to the Ukrainian government, a Russian military plane shot down a Ukrainian fighter jet in Ukrainian airspace.
Pentagon Spokesman Col. Steve Warren said he was aware of reports of the downed passenger jet in Ukraine,but did not have further information.
A senior White House official said President Obama has been briefed on the incident. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said whether it was intentional or accidental it is an “international incident” when a passenger jet is shot down. McCaul said he believed only a military grade weapon could have downed the plane.
The Boeing jets are equipped with twin Rolls-Royce Trent engines, typically cruises at 35,000 feet at speeds up to 639 miles per hour.
On March 8, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, also a Boeing 777 and carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew on a route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, disappeared somewhere over the ocean. It has not been found.