A Malaysian airliner was shot down over eastern Ukraine by militants on Thursday, killing all 295 people aboard, a Ukrainian interior ministry official was quoted as saying by Interfax-Ukraine news agency.
The aircraft, which other sources said was a Boeing 777
flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, came down near the city of Donetsk, stronghold of pro-Russian rebels, Anton Gerashchenko said, adding that it was hit by a ground-to-air missile.
There was no further confirmation of the report, although Ukrainian officials said local residents had found wreckage.
Malaysia Airlines said on its Twitter feed it had lost contact with its flight MH-17 from Amsterdam. "The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace," it said.
Gerashchenko was quoted as saying: "A civilian airliner travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur has just been shot down by a Buk anti-aircraft system ... 280 passengers and 15 crew have been killed."
Interfax-Ukraine quoted another Ukrainian official as saying the plane disappeared from radar when it was flying at 10,000 metres (33,000 feet), a typical cruising altitude for airliners.
It came down at Torez, near Shakhtersk, some 40 km (25 miles) from the Russia border. The area has been the scene of fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels.
Ukraine has accused Russia of taking an active role in the four-month-old conflict in recent days and accused it earlier on Thursday of shooting down a Ukrainian fighter jet - an accusation that Moscow denied.
This is a breaking story. Please check back for updates.
- 1:45 p.m. EDT: Aviation safety authorities in the United States and Europe warned pilots in April about potential risks flying in or near Ukraine airspace, where a Malaysian passenger airliner went down on Thursday. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on April 23 issued a "special notice" regarding Ukrainian airspace to U.S. aviators and air carriers advising them not to fly in airspace around the Crimean city of Simferopol without special approval of the U.S. government. The notice also warned U.S. operators and pilots flying in other parts of Ukraine, including Kiev, Lvov, Dnepropetrovsk and Odessa, to "exercise extreme caution due to the continuing potential for instability."The warning remains in effect until April 23, 2015.
- 1:38 p.m. EDT: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko believes a "terrorist act" was the cause of a Malaysian airlines passenger plane crashing on Thursday, his press secretary said. "Poroshenko thinks this of the plane that was brought down: it is not an incident, not a catastrophe, but a terrorist act," Svatoslav Tsegolko said.
- 1:35 p.m. EDT: Number of dead from crash of Malaysian passenger plane is more than 300 and includes 23 U.S. citizens - Interior Ministry adviser, quoted by Ifax
- 1:25 p.m. EDT: The Dutch prime minister is on his way back to the Netherlands from a summit in Brussels after a Malaysia Airlines plane that took off from Amsterdam was downed in Ukraine, he said in a statement on Thursday. "I am deeply shocked by the dramatic reports on the crash of of Malaysia Airlines MH17," he said, noting that he had been in touch with Ukraine's president. Tour operators have told local media they had booked dozens of Dutch citizens onto the flight.
- 1:18 p.m. EDT: Russian airline Transaero said on Thursday it would avoid using Ukrainian airspace following the crash of a passenger airliner in eastern Ukraine. "The airline Transaero decided to carry out all flights from this moment through third countries, avoiding the airspace of Ukraine," the company said in a statement, adding that flights had already been avoiding eastern Ukrainian territories.
- 1:05 p.m. EDT: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Friday he was shocked by reports a Malaysia Airlines plane had gone down over Ukraine and he was launching an investigation. "I am shocked by reports than an MH plane crashed. We are launching an immediate investigation," Najib said on his Twitter feed. MH is the code for Malaysia Airlines. The incident comes after a Malaysia Airlines plane went missing on March 8 on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board. It has not been found.
- 12:55 p.m. EDT: Russian President Vladimir Putin in a telephone conversation told U.S. President Barack Obama that a Malaysian airplane crashed on Ukrainian territory, the Kremlin said on Thursday. The two leaders held a pre-planned call on the situation in Ukraine during which information became available from air traffic controllers about the crash.
- 12:37 p.m. EDT: Eastern Ukraine separatist leader Alexander Borodai says Malaysian airline shot down by Ukrainian government forces, Kiev has denied involvement