“Malaysia Airlines has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam. The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace -Malaysian Airlines”
UPDATE(5:08EST) – Both U.S. Intelligence and the Kyiv Post are asserting that a missile struck Flight MH17. Below is a transcript of an intercepted communication between Russian-backed Cossacks northwest of Donetsk who Ukraine claim fired the missile that destroyed MH17..
Igor Bezler: We have just shot down a plane. Group Minera. It fell down beyond Yenakievo (Donetsk Oblast).
Vasili Geranin: Pilots. Where are the pilots?
IB: Gone to search for and photograph the plane. Its smoking.
VG: How many minutes ago?
IB: About 30 minutes ago.
SBU comment: After examining the site of the plane the terrorists come to the conclusion that they have shot down a civilian plane. The next part of the conversation took place about 40 minutes later.
“Major”: These are Chernukhin folks who shot down the plane. From the Chernukhin check point. Those cossacks who are based in Chernukhino.
“Grek”: Yes, Major.
“Major”: The plane fell apart in the air. In the area of Petropavlovskaya mine. The first “200” (code word for dead person). We have found the first “200”. A Civilian.
“Greek”: Well, what do you have there?
“Major”: In short, it was 100 percent a passenger (civilian) aircraft.
“Greek”: Are many people there?
“Major”: Holy sh__t! The debris fell right into the yards (of homes).
“Greek”: What kind of aircraft?
“Major”: I haven’t ascertained this. I haven’t been to the main sight. I am only surveying the scene where the first bodies fell. There are the remains of internal brackets, seats and bodies.
“Greek”: Is there anything left of the weapon?
“Major”: Absolutely nothing. Civilian items, medicinal stuff, towels, toilet paper.
“Greek”: Are there documents?
“Major”: Yes, of one Indonesian student. From a university in Thompson.
Militant: Regarding the plane shot down in the area of Snizhne-Torez. It’s a civilian one. Fell down near Grabove. There are lots of corpses of women and children. The Cossacks are out there looking at all this.
They say on TV it’s AN-26 transport plane, but they say it’s written Malaysia Airlines on the plane. What was it doing on Ukraine’s territory?
Nikolay Kozitsin: That means they were carrying spies. They shouldn’t be f…cking flying. There is a war going on.
Additionally, U.S. Intelligence sources have told the Wall Street Journal that they believe that a missile was responsible for the plane’s destruction though they declined to say who fired the missile.
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Not a lot of details at the moment but the plane was crossing from Ukraine into Russian airspace when it crashed. Flight MH17 was carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew members from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. This number includes 23 American citizens. All are presumed dead at this time. According to the Telegraph:
“Initial reports suggested that the flight could have been Malaysia Airlines MH17, which left Amsterdam at 12.14.”
The timing and location are interesting for the simple reason that Ukraine accused Russian air forces of shooting down a Ukrainian warplane in Eastern Ukraine yesterday evening.
Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council, said an Su-25 ground attack plane was downed on Wednesday evening.
Russia’s defence ministry called the accusation “absurd”, Russian state media reported.
Rebels in eastern Ukraine say they shot down two Su-25 jets on Wednesday.
Ukraine also alleges rockets were fired at its forces from Russian territory.
These two things may in no way be related but I mention it simply because, as I said, the timing and geography are odd. What’s more, with the ongoing battle between Ukraine and ethnic Russian rebels in the east of the country it’s possible one side or the other may have mistaken Flight MH17 for an enemy craft.
The Ukrainian Interior Advisor is claiming that the plane was brought down by a surface-to-air missile, possibly a BUK SAM.
However, the Donetsk-based rebels have denied any involvement and stated that they don’t have equipment necessary to even do such a thing. Commercial airlines flight in excess of 30,000 feet, well beyond the reach of artillery fire and smaller surface-to-air missile systems.
The Donetsk People’s Republic, where fighting continues between Kiev and opposition, has rejected any involvement in the incident, as there are reports that the plane was shot down.
It said its self-defense forces just don’t have such military equipment.
Residents have reported about finding debris from a plane, which they say could belong to the Malaysian Boeing. They also said no bodies have been seen, RIA Novosti reports.
Photos of the wreckage is beginning to emerge from locals responding to the crash. Warning, some of these may be graphic.
The Daily Telegraph is reporting that an Associated Press journalist is claiming to have seen the above BUK missile system in eastern Ukraine today:
A key question now is whether the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have access to the kind of missile systems that could reach a plane flying at high altitude.
The separatists have denied having any such systems. But the Associated Press is reporting that one of its journalists saw a launcher that resembled a Russian BUK system – the kind the Ukrainian goverment says carried out the strike – near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne earlier today. The Russian network TV Zvezda, the news network for the Russian military, did report that a Buk fell to separatist hands on June 29th.
Several of the other missile launch systems possessed by the separatists can also reach considerable height – for example the 9K38, can reach up to 11,000 feet.
Reuters is reporting that bodies and wreckage are being found over a 9 mile radius which would indicate that the craft broke up in the air and did not simply crash.
Right now the focus is on analyzing the plane wreckage and analyzing the contents of the plane’s black box which was located at circa 2PM EST by Ukrainian rebels.
Commercial airline traffic is being re-routed around eastern Ukraine at this time.