298 people killed as MH17 ‘shot down’

RSTV Bureau
mh17_victims

A woman reacts to news regarding a Malaysia Airlines plane that crashed in eastern Ukraine at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia

All 298 people on board the plane were killed on Thursday after the Malaysia Airlines flight that was shot down  in the war-torn eastern Ukraine near the Russian border.

There were 298 people, including 154 Dutch nationals, on board the Malaysia Airlines flight that crashed in strife-torn eastern Ukraine, “There were 283 passengers and 15 crew members on board the plane,” Malaysian Airlines Vice-President Huib Gorter told reporters.

The flight manifest of the plane indicated that the MH17 had on board 154 nationals from Netherlands, 43 Malaysians, 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians, 9 from UK, 4 from Germany, 4 from Belgium, and 3 from the Philippines, one from Canada.

About 100 of those killed in the crash were world- renowned AIDS researchers and activists heading to Australia for a global AIDS conference, reports said.

Malaysian Airlines said nationalities of 41 passengers were still to be verified.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Friday that Ukrainian authorities believed that the plane was shot down by pro-Russia rebels but that Malaysia was unable to verify this at this moment.

blame game

The Ukrainian government and the pro-Russian separatists fighting for independence in the east of the country have blamed each other for the alleged shooting down of the plane.

An advisor to the Ukrainain Interior Minister, Anton Herashchenko said that the aircraft was shot down over Ukraine by terrorists operating through a Buk surface-to-air missile system.

Pro-Russian separatists also denied that they were behind the shooting down of the aircraft. They accused the Ukrainian army of shooting down the jet.

Condolences

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the loss of lives in the Malaysian airline tragedy and said India stands with the families of victims in this hour of grief.

Ukraine’s president Petro Poroschenko described the crash as an”act of terror” and vowed to bring to justice those responsible.

US President Barack Obama described the incident as a “terrible tragedy”. He said US officials were trying to establish if any Americans were on board.

Russian President Vladimir Putin “expressed deep condolences” to Malaysia’s Prime Minister over the crash, a post Thursday on the Kremlin’s website said.

Several airlines, including Air India, Jet Airways Lufthansa and Air France, say they will now avoid eastern Ukrainian airspace.

The aviation regulator, Director General of Civil Aviation issued instructions to Air India and Jet Airways, the only two Indian carriers that fly to Europe and North America, to avoid Ukrainian airspace while flying to and from destinations in both the continents, official sources said here.

The crash comes four months after the Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared with 239 people including five Indians on board after taking off from Kuala Lumpur on March 8. The plane has still not been found.