The passenger manifest list of flight MH17 has been released by Malaysia Airlines, and live updates are being provided by Malaysia Airlines. The airline has published “Media Statement 6: MH17 Incident” and "Media Statement 7: MH17 Incident." In its July 19 updates, Malaysia Airlines showed the number of passengers on board MH17 and their nationalities. Malaysia Airlines published the official passenger manifest list with the names of all 298 passengers in its Media Statement 7.
In its newest update on Sunday, July 20, Media Statement 8, Malaysia Airlines reports:
"In light of the recent incident, Malaysia Airlines’ Amsterdam (AMS) – Kuala Lumpur (KUL) service, MH17 flight number will be retired out of respect for our crew and passengers of the mentioned flight code. This will take into effect on 25 July 2014. There are no changes to the frequency of our services and we will continue to operate daily services between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur. The new flight number replacing MH17 will be: MH19 - AMS/KUL."
In its earlier media statement, Malaysia Airlines informed there were 298 souls on board of flight MH17: Netherlands had 192 passengers, including 1 dual Netherlands/USA citizen. Malaysia had 44 citizens including the 15 crew members and two infants. Australia had 27 citizens, Indonesia 12 citizens (including one infant), the United Kingdom had 10 citizens ((including one dual UK/S. Africa citizen), Germany had four citizens, Belgium had four citizens, the Philippines three citizens, Canada one citizen, and New Zealand one citizen.
In addition to supplying the nationalities of the 298 passengers of Flight MH17, Malaysia Airlines is providing the contact number for families of passengers and contact numbers for media contacts. “Families of passengers and crew may contact +603 7884 1234 (Malaysia) or +31703487770 (Netherlands). For media queries, kindly contact +603 8777 5698/ +603 8787 1276.” Malaysia Airlines also published the Cargo Manifest of Flight MH17. While the airline is focusing now on working with “emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support to provide all possible care to the next-of-kin,” the international community is focusing on finding out what caused MH17 to crash.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 left Amsterdam's Schiphol airport on Thursday at 10:15 a.m. GMT and lost contact at 33,000 feet (10,000 meters) at 2:15 p.m. GMT. The flight was scheduled to land at Kuala Lumpur International Airport shortly after 6 a.m. local time today on Friday. MH17 was a Boeing 777-200ER, the same model as that of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared while travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8.
Flight MH17 fell from the sky about 30 miles (50 kilometers) from the Russia-Ukraine border in an area that is controlled by separatist rebels who are against the Ukrainian government and supported by Russia. According to a Mirror report, one eyewitness, a separatist rebel from nearby Krasnyi Luch, reported that “from my balcony I saw a plane begin to descend from a great height and then heard two explosions." Another eyewitness said that he “was working in the field on my tractor when I heard the sound of a plane and then a bang and shots. Then I saw the plane hit the ground and break in two. There was thick black smoke."
According to an Independent report, another eyewitness said that she heard “an enormous bang like an earthquake. Her son-in-law Alexander said flaming shards had fallen from the sky, scorching the fence around his farm.” Another eyewitness said that a body fell through the roof of her village home. “There was a howling noise and everything started to rattle. Then objects started falling out of the sky. Then I heard a roar and she landed in the kitchen, the roof was broken. The body's still here because they told me to wait for experts to come and get it."
The area in which Flight MH17 was reportedly shot down was the same area where two other planes had been shot down by Russian-backed separatist rebels. While rebels deny having a Buk launcher (a Russian-made, medium-range surface-to-air missile system) that would reach 30,000 feet, the Ukrainian government is stating that rebels had shot down two other aircrafts during the past days, and that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was likely mistaken by the rebels to be a Ukrainian military jet that needed to be shot down. U.S. intelligence authorities believe that MH17 was brought down by a surface-to-air missile but have not determined so far who was at the control. Russia-backed rebels argue that MH17 was not shot down from the ground but in the air by the Ukrainian government.
Whether Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down from the ground by rebels or from the air by the Ukrainian government is subject to an ongoing investigation. As reported by the BBC, the flight route taken by MH17 had been declared safe by authorities. “Although the area where the jet crashed had a no-fly zone in place up to 9,754m (32,000ft), the airliner was flying at 10,058m (33,000ft) - above the limit.”