UPDATE - U.S. Intel Says Malaysian Plane Shot Down By Missile

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5:50PM U.S. Intel Says Malaysian Plane Shot Down By Missile

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. official says that American intelligence authorities now believe a surface-to-air missile took down the Malaysian passenger plane as it flew over eastern Ukraine Thursday.

The official says the U.S. is still working to determine additional details about the crash, including who fired the missile and whether it came from the Russian or Ukraine side of the border. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.

The U.S. has sophisticated technologies that can detect missile launches, including the identification of heat from the rocket engine.

The plane was carrying 295 people. The Ukraine government and pro-Russian separatists who are fighting in that region have both denied responsibility for the strike.


5:05 PM Malaysia says jetliner did not make distress call

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Malaysia's prime minister says a Malaysia Airlines jetliner did not make any distress call before it went down in Ukraine, and that the flight route was declared safe by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters that Ukrainian authorities believe the Boeing 777, on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down.
He says that Malaysia, however, is unable to verify "the cause of this tragedy but we must, and we will, find out precisely what happened to this flight.
This is the second tragedy to hit Malaysia Airlines this year. Its Flight 370 disappeared on March 8 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. It has not been found, but the search has been concentrated in the Indian Ocean west of Australia.

4:10PM Pro-Russia rebels may call cease-fire after crash

HRABOVE, Ukraine (AP) -- A Russian news agency has quoted a leader of eastern Ukraine's pro-Russia rebels as saying they intend to call a three-day cease fire to allow an investigation of the crash of a Malaysian airliner.
The RIA-Novosti agency on Thursday quoted rebel leader Alexander Borodai as saying discussions were underway with Ukrainian authorities on calling the short truce for humanitarian reasons.
He said international organizations would be allowed into the conflict-plagued region.

3:50 PM Witnesses may have seen missile hit plane

HRABOVO, Ukraine (AP) -- Russian news agencies have quoted witnesses as saying they saw a plane being hit by what they thought was a rocket today over Ukraine.
But both Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russia rebels are denying they fired a missile that brought down a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane with 295 people aboard.
The plane crashed in eastern Ukraine, about 25 miles from the Russian border. An Associated Press journalist counted at least 22 bodies at the wreckage site, which covers a wide area.
The wreckage is in a village that is currently under the control of pro-Russia separatists. It's seen severe fighting between separatists and government troops in recent days.
Aviation authorities in several countries, including the FAA in the United States, had issued warnings not to fly over parts of Ukraine prior to today's crash. Within hours, several airlines, including Lufthansa and KLM, released statements today saying they were avoiding parts of Ukrainian airspace.


3:20 PM Malaysia Airlines: Boeing 777 Was Flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur

GRABOVO, Ukraine (AP) -- Malaysia Airlines says the plane that went down in eastern Ukraine was a Boeing 777 with 280 passengers and 15 crew members aboard.
Flight 17 had taken off from Amsterdam, bound for Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia, when the airline received notification from Ukrainian aviation authorities that contact had been lost about 30 miles from the Russia-Ukraine border.
An adviser to Ukraine's interior minister said on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of about 33,000 feet. He said it was hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher, which can fire missiles up to an altitude of 22,000 meters, or 72,000 feet.
The Boeing 777-200ER was delivered to Malaysia Airlines on July 30, 1997, according to Flightglobal's Ascend Online Fleets, which sells and tracks information about aircraft. It has more than 43,000 hours of flight time and 6,950 takeoffs and landings.
It was the second Malaysia Airlines jetliner to be lost in less than six months. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared in March while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. It has not been found. The search has been concentrated in the Indian Ocean far west of Australia.


2:30 PM Obama: Downed Jet in Ukraine a 'Terrible Tragedy'

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) -- President Barack Obama says the United States will offer any assistance possible to determine what happened to a downed passenger jet in Ukraine and why.
Obama says the incident looks like it may be a terrible tragedy. He says the U.S. is working to determine whether any American citizens were on board. Obama says that's the first priority for the U.S.
He says the nation's thoughts and prayers are with the victims, regardless of where they are from.
Obama spoke during an event about transportation funding in Delaware. He discussed the plane incident earlier Thursday in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A Ukrainian official says a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday over eastern Ukraine.


1:50 PM US pilots previously told not to fly over Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Federal Aviation Administration had warned U.S. pilots earlier this year not to fly over portions of the Ukraine in the Crimea region, according to notices posted on the agency's website.
The notices were posted on April 23. The U.N.'s International Civil Aviation Organization and the aviation authorities in most countries issue similar notices for areas where unrest or military conflict creates a risk of being shot down.
The FAA had not issued any new warnings Thursday in the immediate aftermath of reports that a Malaysian airliner had been shot down over the Ukraine.


1:35 PM 22 bodies counted at Ukraine wreckage site

GRABOVO, Ukraine (AP) -- An Associated Press journalist has counted at least 22 bodies at the plane wreckage site in eastern Ukraine involving a Malaysia Airlines commercial flight.
The plane appeared to have broken up before impact and the wreck is scattered over a wide area in the eastern Ukraine village of Grabovo.
The field around the burning wreck was strewn with body parts and the belongings of the passengers Thursday.
Malaysia Airlines has said 295 people were aboard the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.


1:00 PM - Ukraine rebels: We did not shoot down plane

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Separatist rebels in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk have denied that they are responsible for shooting down a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane.
Andrei Purgin, deputy prime minister for the rebels, told The Associated Press the plane must have been shot down by Ukrainian government troops. He gave no proof for his statement, and Ukraine earlier denied shooting at any airborne targets.
A Ukrainian official said a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday over eastern Ukraine.


KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- A Malaysian Airlines plane has apparently been shot down over eastern Ukraine.
A Ukrainian official says a passenger plane with 295 people aboard was shot down over a town in the country's east. And Malaysian Airlines tweeted that it lost contact with one of its flights over Ukrainian airspace.
An adviser to Ukraine's interior minister said on his Facebook page that the plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet. He said it was hit by a missile fired by a type of launcher that can fire missiles as high as 72,000 feet.
The government in the Donetsk region of Ukraine says the plane crashed near a village called Grabovo, which it said is currently under the control of armed pro-Russian separatists.
The region has seen severe fighting between Ukrainian forces and the separatists in recent days.
Yesterday evening, Ukrainian officials say, a Ukrainian fighter jet was shot down by an air-to-air missile from a Russian plane. It adds to what Ukraine says is mounting evidence that Moscow is directly supporting the separatist insurgents in eastern Ukraine.

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