The Malaysia Airlines plane reportedly shot down over Ukraine Thursday was not shot down by Ukraine military forces, the country’s president, Petro Poroshenko, has said in a statement.
As reported earlier Thursday by The Inquisitr, Malaysia Airlines reported losing contact with its Flight MH17, a Boeing 777 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, saying on its Twitter feed that the plane’s last known location was inside Ukraine airspace.
According to a Reuters report, the prime minister of Ukraine, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, confirmed that the missing plane was the same aircraft that crashed and was seen burning on the ground in eastern Ukraine, and that the plane was shot down by a ground-to-air missile.
A Ukraine Interior Ministry official added more detail. “A civilian airliner travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur has just been shot down by a Buk anti-aircraft system,” said Anton Gerashchenko.
All 280 passengers and 15 crew members would have perished in the shootdown, Gerashchenko added.
Plane Came Down Near Site Of Fighting With Russia Separatists
The Malaysia Airlines plane came down near Torez, a city near Shakhtersk approximately 25 miles from the Ukraine border with Russia, the site of some of the fiercest fighting between Ukraine military troops and pro-Russian separatist militants who, Ukraine claims, receive military support from Russia.
Earlier Thursday, before the apparent Malaysia Airlines shootdown, Ukraine said that Russia shot down one its military transport planes. If true, the action would mark the most direct involvement to date in the Ukraine conflict by Russia’s military.
But Moscow has denied that it shot down the Ukraine military jet, calling the allegation “absurd.”
Pro-Russia Forces Believed To Have Anti-Aircraft Launcher
The Malaysia Airlines plane was reportedly flying at 33,000 feet when it was apparently struck by the anti-aircraft missile. The pro-Russian separatists near the Ukraine-Russia border are believed to possess at least one of the sophisticated Buk missile launchers, capable of hitting an aircraft at altitude as high as 72,000 feet.
A journalist for Associated Press reported seeing a Buk launcher, or one similar to it, in that area earlier on Thursday.
White House Monitoring Situation, Stocks Tumble
In the United States, President Barack Obama was said to be aware of the incident and had instructed his advisers to update him with the latest information about the Malaysia Airlines plane allegedly shot down.
On Wall Street, traders panicked on news of the Malaysia Airlines shootdown, and stocks tumbled on the news.
Malaysia Airlines Having Worst Year On Record For Aviation Fatalities
The crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 and loss of all 295 passengers and crew, apparently as the result of being shot down, follows the still-unsolved disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in March, with 239 on board, which would make 2014 the worst single year for any airline in history.
In fact, those 534 fatalities alone would make Malaysia Airlines the sixth-deadliest airline on record. China Airlines currently leads the way with 720 fatalities.