August 22, 2014

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Ukraine: 295 on Malaysia plane shot down over east

People inspect the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine, Thursday. Ukraine said a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday as it flew over the country, and both the government and the pro-Russia separatists fighting in the region denied any responsibility for downing the plane. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

People inspect the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine, Thursday. Ukraine said a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday as it flew over the country, and both the government and the pro-Russia separatists fighting in the region denied any responsibility for downing the plane. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

HRABOVE, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine accused pro-Russian separatists of shooting down a Malaysian jetliner with 298 people aboard, sharply escalating the crisis and threatening to draw both East and West deeper into the conflict. The rebels denied downing the aircraft.

American intelligence authorities believe a surface-to-air missile brought the plane down Thursday but were still working on who fired the missile and whether it came from the Russian or Ukrainian side of the border, a U.S. official said.

Bodies, debris and burning wreckage of the Boeing 777 were strewn over a field near the rebel-held village of Hrabove in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Russian border, where fighting has raged for months.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden described the plane as having been “blown out of the sky.”

The aircraft appeared to have broken up before impact, and there were large pieces of the plane that bore the red, white and blue markings of Malaysia Airlines — now familiar worldwide because of the carrier’s still-missing jetliner from earlier this year.

The cockpit and one of the turbines lay at a distance of one kilometer (more than a half-mile) from one another. Residents said the tail was about 10 kilometers (six miles) farther away. Rescue workers planted sticks with white flags in spots where they found human remains.

There was no sign of any survivors from Flight 17, which took off shortly after noon Thursday from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 283 passengers, including three infants, and a crew of 15. Malaysia’s prime minister said there was no distress call before the plane went down and that the flight route was declared safe by the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called it an “act of terrorism” and demanded an international investigation. He insisted his forces did not shoot down the plane.

In Kuala Lumpur, several relatives of those aboard the jet came to the international airport.

A distraught Akmar Mohamad Noor, 67, said her older sister was coming to visit the family for the first time in five years. “She called me just before she boarded the plane and said, ‘See you soon,’” Akmar said.

Counsellors were meeting with a few family members in the airport viewing gallery, sealed off from a horde of journalists. One woman emerged in tears and was escorted out of the airport by a security officer without saying anything.

It was the second time a Malaysia Airlines plane was lost in less than six months. Flight 370 disappeared in March en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. It has not been found, and the search has focused on the Indian Ocean far west of Australia.

“This is just too much,” said Cindy Tan, who was waiting at the airport for a friend on another flight. “I don’t know really why this happened to a MAS (Malaysia Airlines) plane again.”

Ukraine’s security services produced what they said were two intercepted telephone conversations that showed rebels were responsible. In the first call, the security services said, rebel commander Igor Bezler tells a Russian military intelligence officer that rebel forces shot down a plane. In the second, two rebel fighters — one of them at the crash scene — say the rocket attack was carried out by a unit of insurgents about 25 kilometers (15 miles) north of the site.

Neither recording could be independently verified.

Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted Sergey Kavtaradze, a special representative of the Donetsk People’s Republic leader, as denying that the intercepted phone conversations were genuine.

Earlier in the week, the rebels had claimed responsibility for shooting down two Ukrainian military planes.

President Barack Obama called the crash a “terrible tragedy” and spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as Poroshenko. Britain asked for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Ukraine.

Later, Putin said Ukraine bore responsibility for the crash, but he didn’t address the question of who might have shot it down and didn’t accuse Ukraine of doing so.

“This tragedy would not have happened if there were peace on this land, if the military actions had not been renewed in southeast Ukraine,” Putin said, according to a Kremlin statement issued early Friday. “And, certainly, the state over whose territory this occurred bears responsibility for this awful tragedy.”

At the United Nations, Ukrainian Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev told the AP that Russia gave the separatists a sophisticated missile system and thus Moscow bears responsibility, along with the rebels.

More than half of those aboard the plane were Dutch citizens, along with passengers from Australia, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, the Philippines and Canada. The home countries of 41 people were not confirmed.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament Friday that authorities owe it to the families of the dead to find out exactly what happened and who was responsible. “As things stand, this looks less like an accident than a crime. And if so, the perpetrators must be brought to justice,” he said.

The different nationalities of the dead would bring Ukraine’s conflict to parts of the globe that were never touched by it before.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he was “horrified” by the crash, and said the United States was prepared to help with an international investigation.

Ukraine’s crisis began after pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych was driven from office in February by a protest movement among citizens angry about endemic corruption and seeking closer ties with the European Union. Russia later annexed the Crimean Peninsula in southern Ukraine, and pro-Russians in the country’s eastern regions began occupying government buildings and pressing for independence. Moscow denies Western charges it is supporting the separatists or sowing unrest.

Kenneth Quinn of the Flight Safety Foundation said an international coalition of countries should lead the investigation. Safety experts say they’re concerned that because the plane crashed in area of Ukraine that is in dispute, political considerations could affect the investigation.

The RIA-Novosti agency quoted rebel leader Alexander Borodai as saying talks were underway with Ukrainian authorities on calling a short truce for humanitarian reasons. He said international organizations would be allowed into the conflict-plagued region.

Some journalists trying to reach the crash site were detained briefly by rebel militiamen, who were nervous and aggressive.

Aviation authorities in several countries, including the FAA in the United States, had issued warnings not to fly over parts of Ukraine prior to Thursday’s crash, but many carriers, including cash-strapped Malaysia Airlines, had continued to use the route because “it is a shorter route, which means less fuel and therefore less money,” said aviation expert Norman Shanks.

Within hours of Thursday’s crash, several airlines said they were avoiding parts of Ukrainian airspace.

Malaysia Airlines said Ukrainian aviation authorities told the company they had lost contact with Flight 17 at 1415 GMT (10:15 a.m. EDT) about 30 kilometers (20 miles) from Tamak waypoint, which is 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Russia-Ukraine border.

A U.S. official said American intelligence authorities believe the plane was brought down by a surface-to-air missile but were still working to determine additional details about the crash, including who fired the missile and whether it came from the Russian or Ukraine side of the border.

But American intelligence assessments suggest it is more likely pro-Russian separatists or the Russians rather than Ukrainian government forces shot down the plane, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The United States has sophisticated technologies that can detect missile launches, including the identification of heat from the rocket engine.

Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, said on his Facebook page the plane was flying at about 10,000 meters (33,000 feet) when it was hit by a missile from a Buk launcher, which can fire up to an altitude of 22,000 meters (72,000 feet). He said only that his information was based on “intelligence.”

Igor Sutyagin, a research fellow in Russian studies at the Royal United Services Institute, said both Ukrainian and Russian forces have SA-17 missile systems — also known as Buk ground-to-air launcher systems.

Rebels had bragged recently about having acquired Buk systems.

Sutyagin said Russia had supplied separatists with military hardware but had seen no evidence “of the transfer of that type of system from Russia.”

Earlier Thursday, AP journalists saw a launcher that looked like a Buk missile system near the eastern town of Snizhne, which is held by the rebels.

Poroshenko said his country’s armed forces didn’t shoot at any airborne targets.

Separatist leader Andrei Purgin told the AP he was certain that Ukrainian troops had shot the plane down, but gave no explanation or proof.

There have been several disputes over planes being shot down over eastern Ukraine in recent days.

A Ukrainian fighter jet was shot down Wednesday by an air-to-air missile from a Russian plane, Ukrainian authorities said, adding to what Kiev says is mounting evidence that Moscow is directly supporting the insurgents.

Pro-Russia rebels claimed responsibility for strikes on two Ukrainian Sukhoi-25 jets Wednesday. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said the second jet was hit by a portable surface-to-air missile but the pilot landed safely.

  • Simon Jester

    The Malaysians are having no luck with airliners this year..

    • golfingirl

      This one was not about luck. Putin will likely say he was defending himself from a threat, and had every right to do this.

      Looks like the USSR is back!

      • Bob

        Back in the USSR. Good song.

    • Scout

      Crass

      • Simon Jester

        At least they know where this one went…

  • golfingirl

    Pro-Russia separatists initially took “credit” for this, now they are denying it. Maybe because it actually came from across the border, from Russia itself.

    Either way, really does not matter, they are one and the same.

    If there were any Americans on this plane, a steep price must be paid…not just more useless economic sanctions.

    The world is on fire, and we need a “fireman” in the Oval Office. Not a child with a squirt gun!

    • SniperFire

      ‘If there were any Americans on this plane, a steep price must be paid.’

      23 Americans by one report. This can only mean one thing: the Bamster is gonna have to draw another line in the sand!

      • golfingirl

        I am am sure he will say…. “I am looking at all my options,” for the next 6 months.

        • B4CE

          Rather OUR President take 6 months to figure out who is responsible and why than rush to bomb someone in our name only to find out he was wrong.
          Remember Reagan bombing Tripoli over two dead service men, to have them retaliate by blowing up Pan Am killing 170 ‘ Mericans ? Reagan’s response? ” Eh, let Bushy handle it”

          • SniperFire

            Don’t feed this troll and his off-topic red herrings, folks.

        • SniperFire

          We elected somebody as POTUS who never ran so much as a taco stand in his life.

          Not sure what leadership we were expecting…..

          • Scout

            for sure

          • jz

            We had many Presidents who one can argue did not have the required experience prior to holding office. However, it is time we let Putin know we mean business. I hope we get our ducks in a row so when we make a move it is not the wrong target like invading Iraq.

      • Scout

        Yep

    • B4CE

      Imagine that, CONservatives calling for yet more military action. GD chicken hawk warmongers ! Let’s send someone else’s kids off to die so the military industrial machine can make more money, get more CONs elected & strengthen your stock portfolios. ‘Merica!

      • Joe Smith

        Imagine that, Libs wanting to let people get away with murder again like Benghazi

        • B4CE

          Get away with murder? How do you figure? The ringleader has been caught and will be tried. Seems justice is being pursued in the proper way.
          I’m sure you’d rather blow all up & let your god sort ‘me out. But that is against international and ur god’s law

          • Scout

            Apparently you know nothing when you say the ringleader has been caught.

          • SniperFire

            Maybe he was talking about Hillary?

          • Scout

            Ahahaha

          • Joe Smith

            1 guy out of a hundred that even if put to death would just be a martyr which is what they want to end up being, that sure showed them.
            Should have gave them the protection they were begging for to avoid it in the first place instead of blaming some lame video

          • B4CE

            Should have. To bad republiCONs refused to pass the funding for it.

          • Joe Smith

            Actually, they voted to fund everything but Obamacare

        • B4CE

          Remember the republiCON outrage when 60 ‘Mericans died in embassy attacks while Bushy was Prez?….
          Neither do I.

          • Sue Lawson

            Neither do I.

          • HankKwah

            Apples and oranges. Bush didn’t deny support. obama didn’t offer any.

      • Simon Jester

        Ah, the deranged troll graces us with his presence..

        • B4CE

          Hank kik, is that you? How am I a troll for posting my opinion on the subject? Or is this section just for you CONS?
          All right, I see your point, I’ll agree to do exactly as Reagan and Daddy Bush did when 170 ‘Mericans died in the Pan Am bombing….

          • HankKwah

            Nice try, but Simon Jester is not me. He’ll be the first to tell you that. Your opinion is inflammatory, ignorant, and wrong. You might not want to admit it, but you know that it is.

        • Sue Lawson

          So anyone who posts their opinion is a troll? Wellllllll

      • Sue Lawson

        I think they seriously want us to go to war.

        • B4CE

          It’s the Pro Life party!

        • golfingirl

          Nobody wants war.

          But America deserves a president who is engaged.

          His absence anytime a crisis occurs is not very reassuring to the American people, nor the World.

          What we have is a president who is clearly incompetent.

          How many more examples do you need. Isn’t it getting tiresome defending this guy?

          • Reagan

            rolling my eyes.

          • Sue Lawson

            What else is there gg?

          • golfingirl

            What else is there….have you been asleep the past six years?

            Really?

          • Sue Lawson

            I am talking about what you think he should do. Also tell which president stayed by the phone at the WH 24/7.

      • tickmeoff

        Isn’t that the truth. The rich have no skin in this game, they can only win. They will not lose any loved ones, and they profit from their stock going up. Doesn’t sound like the america that I was raised in. Them 10 year wars and the military industrial complex having to not defend itself, due to the richest and most powerful having nothing to lose, and everything to gain. When we go to war, everybody should have to sacrifice, not just the lower classes.
        You have got to hand it to them, an all volunteer Army was sheer genius on their part. We will never see the war protests, like the one’s in the 60′s, they will lose no blood and can only profit.
        When we go to war, it should be “We the People, Not just, “Some of the people.” You can hear them now….Why give up my son or daughter, I am rich and privileged, The poor should be happy to have a job at my business, and as for their kids, better their kids than mine! Yeah I understand the arrogance.

        • Sis Delish

          You and B4CE go stand in the “I Surrender” line.

          The rest of us will watch as you are hauled away, clinging to your “principles”.

  • Phil Blank

    Look in Mashable for more, no body photos, just words and photos.

  • SniperFire

    Now that Owebambam has decided to let the little borat nations run wild and fill the power vacuum in our retreat as leader of the free world, war is bubbling up everywhere.

    Didn’t they see the speech where he declared Himself to be the One the World ‘has been waiting for’? I mean, wassup wit dat, dog?

    hopey changey

    • Sue Lawson

      ‘Didn’t they see the speech where he declared Himself to be the One ‘the World has been waiting for’? I mean, wassup wit dat, dog?

      hopey changey”

      Take things out of context much. Key words above, ‘the World has been waiting for’?

      Actual words: “You see, the challenges we face will not be solved with one meeting in one night. It will not be resolved on even a Super Duper Tuesday. Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. We are the hope of those boys who have so little, who’ve been told that they cannot have what they dream, that they cannot be what they imagine. Yes, they can.”

      Now SniperFire, please answer this question truthfully. Do you want to see us at war with Russia?

      • SniperFire

        Take things out of context much. ‘

        Not much. He declared himself to be the answer, and you drooled over this ignorant Manchurian candidate as if he were anything other than the inexperienced, incompetent empty-suit he has proved to be – over and over and over and over again. LOL

        • Scout

          SniperFire…isn’t over and over and over again a song lol

        • Sue Lawson

          SniperFire- do you want us to go to war with Russia. I don’t need an answer from anyone else. Thank you.

          • SniperFire

            ‘SniperFire- do you want us to go to war with Russia. ‘

            You clearly ignored my point that Owebama has evacuated America as the Leader of the Free World, giving a green light to every despot to radicalize thanks to his taking a fetal post on foreign policy.

            The irony of your false-premised question is that Russia was contained quite effectively when we had POTUSes which they respected and feared. Now both Russia and China have a green light to take their respective brands of totalitarianism throughout the world – including the afformentioned South and Central America.

            Only a person with childlike naivety would think the collapse of freedom in the world – thanks directly to America abandoning her defense of it – won’t end in real wars (not the pretend scirmishes we now participate in) costing billions of lives next time around.

          • Sue Lawson

            The last time I checked the US doesn’t dictate the foreign policies of other countries. Or maybe you know something that no one else does.

          • SniperFire

            ‘The last time I checked the US doesn’t dictate the foreign policies of other countries.’

            You are naive.

          • Sue Lawson

            So are you.

      • golfingirl

        What Russia did was an act of war! Shooting down a commercial flight and killing 20+ innocent Americans.

        Obama refers to it as a “tragedy.” It is not a tragedy, it is deliberate act, which requires the full attention of the President of the United States!

        So, where is he tonight, on a fundraising trip. More concerned about raising money for women’s birth control issues, then returning to the White House and addressing the American people, offering reassurance and calling Putin out for what he is…..a ruthless murderer.

        • Sue Lawson

          Do you remember what Bush said when he saw the first plane go into the Twin Tower, yes I said the first plane. He said, “What a terrible pilot. That must have been a horrible accident.” It was not a horrible accident, it was a deliberate act. Oh and don’t bother responding that Bush didn’t know at the time it was a deliberate act. Uh-huh

          • Sis Delish

            Care to tell the board other things you know that was in Bush’s Brain during those few moments?

          • Sue Lawson

            Probably not much going on up there. Oh and there is a video in case you aren’t too, well, “busy” to look it up.

          • golfingirl

            Get over the comparisons with Bush garbage.

            I was never a big fan of Bush either.

            Why do Obama supporters always use Bush as some sort of barometer for Obama’s actions?

            I suppose Obama can do no wrong, because we always have that “Bush comparison” to make.

            Bush is not the president now, Obama is! I am so tired of hearing ….”well, Bush did this, or Bush did that.”

            Bush’s actions do not give Obama a free pass and a convenient excuse for his administration’s ineptness.

            He is the CURRENT president. He is in charge. Time to act like it and stop acting like a child.

            Obama must begin showing strong, decisive leadership and address the world on this…call out Putin and mobilize out allies.

            Anything that Bush did, does not excuse Obama’s inaction, on this, or any other issue.

          • Sue Lawson

            Maybe because people blamed Clinton when Bush was in office. A lot of the things Obama is accused started on Bush’s watch. So no, we won’t stop blaming Bush, you’ll have to just suck it up.

          • Starryeyes63

            well we can o back and Blame Johnson for getting 58,000 young American men & women killed by sending them to Vietnam

          • Otter

            I, and everyone else I was with on 9/11 (I was at work at the time, so I was with a lot of people) thought the same thing, we all believed when the first plane hit it was a horrible accident, you apparently had some “insight” that the rest of us were lacking? Or is is hindsight, and selective memory?

          • Sis Delish

            Yep, first reports suggested it was a small prop plane, I recall as reported on The Howard Stern Show that morning.

            Sue Lawson I may be one of those History Revisionist making the rounds these days?

          • Guest

            No one said a word about the type of plane that was used. Sis Delish, what does that have to do with anything?

          • Sue Lawson

            Sis Delish, If someone claims they SAW the first plane hit the towers, are you telling me they wouldn’t know the difference between a small prop plane and a huge jet? Maybe you and Otter are having a hard time understanding what I said. No where in my post did I mention what type of plane. I just thought it was strange that Bush claimed he saw it go into the first tower.

          • Sue Lawson

            The point I am trying to make (rolling my eyes), is that some people are criticizing Obama’s reaction. I guess they want him to fall to the ground and scream. I doubt you understand.

          • Otter

            If that was the point you were trying to make, it didn’t come across that way. You apparently missed my point. Initially we all thought the first plane was a horrible accident. Obama knew that the Malaysian plane had been intentionally shot down, calling it a tragedy at that point was, a poor choice of words.

          • Sue Lawson

            How was it a poor choice of words? He didn’t know all the details at the time.

          • Otter

            He knew it was deliberate, he knew it was a passenger plane that was shot down. Geez, and I’m the one who doesn’t understand.

          • Sue Lawson

            He said he saw the 1st plane AS IT WAS HAPPENING! How was that even possible???

          • Otter

            What are you talking about? This has nothing to do with any of my posts.

          • Starryeyes63

            Actually Bush did not know till AFTER the 2nd plane hit, He was reading to school children in Florida, He was criticized for waiting a few moments, as not to alarm the children.

          • Sue Lawson

            Do you not check anything. “Well, Jordan (ph), you’re not going to believe what state I was in when I heard about the terrorist attack. I was in Florida. And my chief of staff, Andy Card — actually I was in a classroom talking about a reading program that works. And I was sitting outside the classroom waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower — the TV was obviously on, and I use to fly myself, and I said, “There’s one terrible pilot.” And I said, “It must have been a horrible accident.” If this isn’t good enough for you there is a video on YouTube with Bush saying this. Or maybe you could, you know, do some of your own checking. Don’t bother to reply, you’re a waste of my time. Blocking you.

          • Starryeyes63

            well thank you….. I have been blocked by far better…..

        • Sue Lawson

          20 Americans? Are you sure?

  • Scout

    Ah yes this is in the Ukraine so not so much our problem right??? Did anyone see that Putin made a trip to Cuba and S.America last week?????? Really, why would he go there unless he had some grand design. The administration is not concerned with this because they have never been concerned with our neighbors to the south from guatemala to patagonia… They should be concerned, very concerned and so should the rest of us.

    • SniperFire

      Well, at least Iran won’t develop a nuke – thanks to Obama’s line in da sand! oh wait

  • golfingirl

    I have a solution.

    Re-appoint Hillary Clinton to Secretary of State for a day. Send her to Geneva to meet with the Russia Foreign Secretary and present him with a red plastic button.

    On this button, write the word “Reset,” to symbolize America’s willingness to wipe the slate clean, and not hold Russia responsible for the deliberate shooting down of a commercial airliner, killing 20+ Americans.

    In fact, adopt this as America’s new foreign policy…Big Red Buttons for all swore enemies to the United States. A brilliant plan!

    What do you mean we already tried this? And it didn’t work?

    Oh well, never mind.

  • Sis Delish

    It’s time for the occupant of The White House to do a fly-over the downed Malaysian crash site, no?