Plane shot down by a surface-to-air missile, U.S. officials say.
HRABOVO, Ukraine (KXAN/AP) – A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 295 people on board has crashed in the Ukraine after being shot out of the air. The jetliner was shot down as it flew over the conflict-riddled eastern portion of Ukraine near the Russian border, the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists deny they shot at the airliner.
The flight, known as MH17, was enroute to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam when it went down. There were 280 passengers and 15 crew members onboard.
In the Social Networks already the hashtags #RIPMIH17 NBC News reports senior U.S. Officials confirmed MH17 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile.
A reporter for the Associated Press counted at least 22 bodies among the wreckage at the crash site. It is unclear if these casualties were on the plane or killed while on the ground.
Malaysia Airlines announced it lost contact with the flight via Twitter: #MalaysiaA
Popular flight-tracking website Flightaware.com showed the plane was last over Ukraine, when it disappeared from tracking. The aircraft was flying at a cruising altitude of 33,000 feet when it last reported in to Flightaware.
Twitter exploded with the news in various languages, including pictures and videos of plumes of smoke. NBC News aired this video, saying they were unable to independently confirm the smoke plume is from MH17.
Still, a Reuters correspondent is reportedly on the scene in Easter Ukraine and “sees burning wreckage of air plane, bodies on ground.”
The area where the aircraft reportedly crashed is has seen frequent rocket attacks in recent days as part of the ongoing conflict between the Ukraine and Russia. Ukrainian military officials said a military transport plane was shot at as it flew over the area earlier this week.
Malaysia Airlines 777
Malaysia Airlines made headlines in March when a Boeing 777 disappeared over the south Indian Ocean on flight MH370 to China and has not been found. All 241 aboard are presumed dead. Flight MH370 disappeared in an area with scattered radar coverage. Thursday’s flight, MH17, was in an area with heavy radar coverage when it crashed.
The airline flies 13 Boeing 777-200ER aircraft. The crashed aircraft, registration number 9M-MRD, was delivered to Malaysia Airlines on July 29, 1997. A typical cabin configuration for a Malaysia Airlines 777 allows for 35 business class seats and 247 economy seats for a total of 282 passenger seats, according to Seat Guru.com.
Associated Press reports contributed to this article.
Malaysian Airlines 777 Photo Gallery