According to multiple reports and video posted via CNN a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane carrying 295 souls has crashed over eastern Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines has confirmed that they lost contact with the plane, identified as a MH17, over Ukrainian airspace after it left from Amsterdam on its way to Malaysia. The jet had 15 crew aboard and 280 passengers. There have been no survivors found at the crash site. The circumstances of the crash are now part of an international inquiry, with many suspecting that the plane may have been shot down by Russian separatists in the area. Below are the latest updates on the story from various news sources around the world.
According to the Associated Press the plane appears to have broken up before impact and the wreckage was scattered over a wide area. Ukranian Presdient Petro Poroshenko has called the downing an act of terrorism and called for an international investigation. President Poroshenko also claimed that his forces had no part in shooting down the plane.
In a live statement on all the major cable news networks President Obama called the story a "terrible tragedy." President Obama said the State Department is still working to confirm whether any Americans were on board the plane. President Obama also offered U.S. assistance to Ukraine to investigate and respond to the crash.
The AP also reports that aviation authorities in many countries, including the FAA in the United States, issued warning to civilian planes not fly over parts of Ukraine prior to the crash today.
The New Republic Russian states that separatists in Eastern Ukraine, armed with SA-17 surface-to-air missiles, have been downing Ukrainian aircraft before today as part of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Screenshots posted to the internet shortly before the crash appear to show one Russian separatists bragging about shooting down a Ukrainian military plane.
Mike Giglio, a correspondent for Buzzfeed, reports that a spokesman for the Ukrainian armed forces has told BuzzFeed that they can't reach the crash site, and that the site is under rebel control. The same source told BuzzFeed that the rebels have the black box. Photos of the site, via the Huffington Post (warning some images graphic), can be seen here.
Nick Bryant of BBC New York reports that Britain is now calling for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the crash of MH17.
Reuters reports that international airlines are now avoiding Ukrainian airspace until the cause of the MH17 crash is known. Reuters also reports that pro-Russian separatists in Ukrain are offering a three-day cease fire in order to allow for recovery at the crash site.
Steve Herman, a broadcast correspondent in Asia, reports that Ukraine's foreign minister is now "squarely" putting the blame for MH17's shootdown on Russia. A spokesperson for the Ukrainian government claims that they have an audio recording in which 2 Russian GRU military officers discussed the shootdown of the plane.
The AP reports that, Anton Gareshenko, an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister, claims that the plane was flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters (33,000 feet) when it was hit by a missle from a Buk launcher, which can fire at targets up to 22,000 meters (72,000 fee). Both Ukrainian and Russian military forces have Buk missile launchers. A launcher "similar to Buk" was seen by Associated Press journalists earlier today in the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne.
Dana Bash of CNN reports that Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Diane Feinstein emerged from a briefing saying little is known about the reason for MH17's downing.
Julian Barnes, a Pentagon reporter for the Wall Street Journal, quotes an anonymous official as saying that the United States believes it is "very unlikely" that the MH17 was shot down by Ukraine. Instead, officials are looking at "the separatists or the Russians" as the source of the attack.