Ukrainian Pres: We didn't shoot down Flight 17
Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko said the Ukranian military did not attempt to shoot down any aircraft after reports surfaced that Malaysia Airlines flight 17 crashed there on Thursday en route to Kuala Lumpur. The flight originated in Amsterdam. All 295 people onboard are believed to have been killed, with a Ukrainian government advisor saying the flight was brought down with a missile.
Speaking to the Associated Press, President Poroshenko said, “we do not exclude that this plane was shot down, and we stress that the Armed Forces of Ukraine did not take action against any airborne targets.”
He went on to say that “those who are guilty in this tragedy will be held responsible.”
The Ukrainian government was accused of shooting the plane down by separatist leader Andrei Purgin, though he would did not explain his belief to the Associated Press. He told the newswire that even if pro-Russian separatists had access to a missile launcher capable of taking down the plane, no one under his command had knowledge of operating the weaponry.
Reporters working for the newswire claim to have seen a Buk missile launcher on the ground in the nearby town of Snizhne early on Thursday. The system is capable of striking a target up to 72,000 feet in the air.
Flight 17 was said to be flying at 33,000 feet.
The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 left Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport at 12:15 p.m. after a brief delay, with 280 passengers and 15 crew members. The airline has not confirmed that the plane crashed, but they have said that air traffic control lost contact with the flight.
Government officials of the Donetsk region in Ukraine say the plane crashed near Grabovo, a town believed to be under control of pro-Russian separatists, the AP said. Video allegedly from near the crash site showed large plumes of black smoke rising from the ground, while dead bodies could be seen in photos of the wreckage.
Reporters working for the newswire claim to have seen a Buk missile launcher on the ground in the nearby town of Snizhne early on Thursday.
A Ukrainian military transport plane was shot down 85 kilometers away in Lugansk earlier this week. On Wednesday, a Ukranian fighter jet crashed in eastern Ukraine, with the country saying the fighter was taken out by a Russian air-to-air missile. The Russian government denied the accusation.
People concerned about loved ones onboard Flight 17 may contact Malaysia Airlines emergency number, +60 378 841 234.