The passenger jet holding 283 passengers and 15 crew members is suspected to have been shot down by a sophisticated surface-to-air missile fired by Ukrainian separatists backed by Moscow. There were no survivors from the crash, leaving a tragic scene of bodies scattered everywhere amongst the rubble in rebel-held territory near the hostile border between Ukraine and Russia.
The large impact of this international tragedy could prove to be a turning point for pressure to resolve the crisis in Ukraine, which has killed hundreds since the overthrow of Ukraine’s president in Kiev, and Russia’s annexation of the Crimea peninsula.
Leaders of a Ukrainian rebel group, who call themselves the Denetsk People’s Republic, deny any involvement and said a government air force jet had brought down the intercontinental flight.
Russia’s Defense Ministry later pointed the finger at Ukrainian ground forces, saying said it had picked up radar activity from a Ukrainian missile system south of Donetsk when the airliner was brought down, Russian media reported.
With a constant blame game going on between Ukrainian rebels, their government, and Russia, it is difficult to figure out who really is responsible. The United States and Germany have called for a ceasefire in order to allow access to the crash site for further investigation.
So far, only 181 bodies have been recovered of the 298. More than half of the passengers aboard, 173 people, were Dutch, 44 were Malaysian, 27 Australian, 12 Indonesian, nine British, four German, four Belgian, three Filipino, and one each from Canada, New Zealand, and Romania. All 15 crew members were Malaysian. Nationalities of the others aboard were unclear.
According to a statement put out by Malaysian Airlines, the flight route over Ukraine’s airspace was approved by Eurocontrol.
“MH17’s flight plan was approved by Eurocontrol, who are solely responsible for determining civil aircraft flight paths over European airspace…The route over Ukrainian airspace where the incident occurred is commonly used for Europe to Asia flights. A flight from a different carrier was on the same route at the time of the MH17 incident, as were a number of other flights from other carriers in the days and weeks before.”
“Following this incident, Malaysia Airlines now avoids Ukrainian airspace entirely, flying further south over Turkey.”
President Obama briefly addressed the reports on Thursday, saying the United States will offer any available assistance to the Ukrainian government.
SOURCE: HuffPost | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty