Donetsk, Ukraine – A Malaysian passenger airliner with 295 people on board crashed in Ukraine near the Russian border on Thursday.
The Boeing plane was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The aircraft, a Boeing 777 came down near the city of Donetsk, stronghold of pro-Russian rebels.
The plane came down 50 km (20 miles) short of entering Russian airspace. It “began to drop, afterwards it was found burning on the ground on Ukrainian territory,” the unnamed source said.
The plane appeared to have come down in a region of military action where Ukrainian government forces are battling pro-Russian separatists.
A separate unnamed source in the Ukrainian security apparatus, quoted by Interfax, said the plane disappeared from radar at a height of 10,000 metres after which it came down near the town of Shakhtyorsk.
Dozens of bodies were scattered around the smouldering wreckage of the jet that crashed in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, a Reuters reporter said.
An emergency services rescue worker said at least 100 bodies had so far been found at the scene, near the village of Grabovo, and that debris from the wreckage was scattered across an area up to about 15 km (nine miles) in diameter.
Broken pieces of the wings were marked with blue and red paint – the same colours as the emblem of the Malaysian airline which lost track of a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that was carrying almost 300 people.
AP is reporting that an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Minister says the plane was shot down.
The official, Anton Gerashenko says on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters (33,000 feet) when it was hit Thursday by a missile fired from a Buk launcher. “280 passengers and 15 crew died,” Anton wrote on his Facebook site.
A similar launcher was seen by Associated Press journalists near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne earlier Thursday.
Separatist leader Aleksander Borodai blamed the downing of a Malaysian passenger airliner in eastern Ukraine 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.
Ukraine’s president says his country’s armed forces did not shoot at any airborne targets, after reports that a Malaysian Airlines plane went down over Ukraine.
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.”
Poroshenko said “we are sure that those who are guilty in this tragedy will be held responsible.”
Malaysia Airlines said on its Twitter that it lost contact with a plane over Ukrainian airspace.
The airline that more details were coming.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared in March while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. It has not been found, but the search has been concentrated in the Indian Ocean far west of Australia.