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Ukraine finds two black boxes at crash site
Published:  Jul 17, 2014 11:25 PM
Updated: Jul 18, 2014 5:17 PM

Day 1 of MH17 tragedy

Latest developments:

  • Obama: Dual American-Dutch citizen among dead

 

  • MAS now says 189 Dutch passengers
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  • Aussie PM flays Russia for blaming Ukraine
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  • Minister: Plane was not flying over forbidden space
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  • Report: US says plane struck by missile
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    Follow us as we bring the latest updates and coverage on Flight MH17:

    Obama expresses outrage

    12midnight: CNN reports on President Barack Obama’s press conference where he expresses outrage and says that one of its citizens was on board the plane.

    “We stand shoulder to shoulder in grief with the Dutch people,” he says.

    We know that the plane has been shot down, says Obama, and this is not the first time as they have shot down a transport plane and a military aircraft within the same area,

    Obama urges an immediate ceasefire and evidence should not be tampered with.

    “We will offer any assistance including the FBI and the NTSB. Our immediate focus will be investigating what has happened and putting the facts. It is important to sift through the evidence carefully.”

    He blames Russia for failing to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine.

    “It time for peace and security to be restored in Ukraine.”

    Obama confirms that 100 researchers for AIDS were on board the aircraft, and they are people who are focused on something which they can built and not destroy.

    “It is important to look them up and lead their example. We stand on the side of justice and truth,” he says.

    Obama says it is too early to guess what were the intentions are for the firing of the missile.

    “We know that it was a surface to air missile that shot it down, but it is important to get additional information to get a focus on. My concern is that there is a lot of Eastern Ukraine. We do not want propaganda or games,” he says.

    He also confirms that at least one American perished on board MH17. He identified as one Quinn Lucas Schansman, who reported has a dual America-Dutch citizenship.

    Adviser to governor has no idea where boxes are now

    10.40pm: Ukraine’s emergency services have found two black boxes at the crash site of a Malaysian airliner, Interfax-Ukraine quoted an adviser to the governor of eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region as saying.

    “Two black boxes were found by our emergency services. I have no information on where these boxes are at the moment,” Kostyantyn Batovsky was quoted as saying.

    A spokesperson for the Emergencies Ministry in Kiev declined to comment on the report.

    Russia under heavy fire in UN Security Council meeting

    10.30pm: CNN is now carrying live from UN where the Security Council has called for an emergency session to vote on Britain's call for a "full, thorough and independent investigation" into the MH17 crash.

    Britains ambassador to the council Mark Lyall Grant calls on Russia to use its "influence" to ensure unfettered access to the crash site.

    Grant says Russia must cease its policy of supporting violent separatist and generating displacement. “We must hear today condemnation from Russia.”

    The US ambasador Samantha Power says: “We will not rest until we find out what happened"

    She says a full, independent investigation must be held and those responsible must not be "sheltered" by any member country.

    “There was nothing threatening or provocative about MH17” for it to be shot down, she says.

    Powers states that if it true the Flight MH17 was shot down, then the pro-Russian separatist and "its backers would have every reason to cover up".

    She calls on Russia to end the war with the separatists and Ukraine.

    Russia's ambassador Vitaly Churkin, however, warns the other nations against "trying to prejudge outcome" of the probe.

    He lays the blame on Ukraine's shoulder, question why its air traffic controllers allowed MH17 to flight over an area it knew was in conflict.

    He also asks why air travel in the air space was not stopped in the first place.

    10pm: According to a New Straits Times tweet, PM Najib Razak says he just had a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Aussie firm slammed over MH17 life insurance adverts

    10pm: “What a tragedy!” its website said. “Up to 27 Australians were among 298 people on board a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet which was shot down over Ukraine with the loss of all on board. Is it another sign to consider life insurance? #PrayForMH17.

    Warren Lazarus, the head of the firm, tells Fairfax Media he was “flabbergasted” and immediately ordered the removal of the advertisements. He said the advertisements had only been in place for about 15 minutes.

    “As soon as I found out, I told them to remove it immediately,” Lazarus says. “We apologise for any distress it has caused.”

    8.20pm: MAS releases latest figures. The new breakdown on passengers is - Netherlands (189), Malaysia (44), Australia (27), Indonesia (12), United Kingdom (9), Germany (four), Belgium (four), Philippines (three), Canada (one) and New Zealand (one).

    Four passengers remain unidentified.

    7.25pm: The Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) is sending 10 imams to Ukraine to help with religious guidance and funeral rites over the crash of a Malaysia Airlines (MAS) aircraft there yesterday.

    Jakim director-general Datuk Othman Mustapha says in a statement that the Jakim delegation was headed by the grand imam of the Putra Mosque in Putrajaya, Abdul Manaf Mat.

    Netherlands senator among MH17 dead

    7.18pm: A Dutch senator is among those who perished on board Flight MH17.

    “Dutch parliament confirms one of its senators, Professor Willem Witteveen, is among the dead,” the Financial Times states in a Twitter posting.

    MH17 'no coincidence'

    6.20pm: PM Najib Abdul Razak will hold a special address on the MH17 tragedy at 8.10pm, Bernama reports.

    Bernama also reports that a special investigation team of will be departing to Kiev, Ukraine at 8pm, to conduct thorough investigation into the air crash.

    6pm: AFP reports that a family member of an American passenger on MH370, which went missing on March 8 as it flew over the south Indian Ocean, has claimed the latest air disaster to have befallen MAS is no coincidence.

    According to Sarah Bajc ( right ), whose partner Philip Wood was on board MH370, reportedly warns "it was only a matter of time" before a new tragedy hits the struggling flag carrier because "when symptoms of a disease are ignored, the disease festers".

    "Another (Malaysia Airlines) flight has gone down. Another 777... Far too much coincidence for the two situations to not be linked in some way," Bajc says in an email to the AFP .

    She, and several other next-of-kin of passengers have criticised MAS and the Malaysian government over its handling of the March disappearane, and accused them of withholding information.

    No last-minute order to change route

    4.45pm: Newly-minted Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai concludes his press conference at the Sama-Sama Hotel in Sepang. Here are some of the highlights:

    • If the claim by US and Ukraine that MH17 was shot down is proven true, it would contravene international law, and be an “outrage against human decency”.

     

  • Ukraine government will be responsible for investigation into the crash, and updates provided to next-of-kin, as per International Civil Aviation Organisation's (ICAO) guidelines.
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  • Malaysia has been formally invited to participate in investigations and will send two senior accredited representatives.
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  • Malaysia Airlines has revised its passengers list after verifying a further 21 of the 41 passengers whose nationality could not initially be verified.
  • These passengers were previously unidentified as they were in transit, and had not entered passport control in Amsterdam.

     

  • The new breakdown on passengers is - Netherlands (173), Malaysia (44), Australia (27), Indonesia (12), United Kingdom (9), Germany (4), Belgium (4), Philippines (3), Canada (1) and New Zealand (1).
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  • MAS has arranged for 40 staff to be flown to Amsterdam to support families there. It will release passenger manifest once all next-of-kin have been notified of the crash. However, the plane’s cargo manifest will be released later today.
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  • He denies Flight MH17 was the only airline using that route, saying at least 15 of 16 Association of Asia Pacific Airlines also ply the same route , along with several European airlines. The route was also approved by the ICAO.
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  • There were no last-minute instructions for MH17 pilots to change route.
  • Abbott: Russia's response unsatisfactory

    4:30pm: CNN reports that British Prime Minister David Cameron ( left ) will chair a government crisis response committee meeting today over the MH17 crash. Britain has nine passengers on board.

    Meanwhile, it reports that Australian PM Tony Abbott has criticised Russia's response to the tragedy in immediately pointing the finger at Ukraine, calling it “deeply unsatisfactory”.

    “We all know that there are problems in Ukraine. We also know who is very substantially to blame for those problems, and the idea that Russia can somehow say that none of this has anything to do with them because it happened in Ukrainian airspace, frankly, does not stand up to any serious scrutiny.

    “I want to say to the Australian people that as far as I am concerned, when you have a situation where Russian-backed rebels appear to have killed Australians using - it may well turn out to be Russian-supplied heavy weaponry - Australia takes a very dim view indeed and we want the fullest possible investigation,” he reportedly says.

    4.27pm: Australian PM Tony Abbott ( right ) has ordered  flags to be at half-mast in honour of the crash victims, says CNN .

    The same is being done in Netherlands, reports Dutch News.nl , stating public buildings there will have their flags at half mast in mourning for the 154 of its nationals on board.

    The Dutch embassy in Kuala Lumpur is also closed today.

    Minister: MAS not alone on affected route

    4.21pm: MAS is seeking to arrange safe passage for families in Amsterdam of those on board the downed plane, Reuters quotes an Amsterdam airport spokesperson as saying.

    The news wire also reports that Malaysia will send a disaster team of 62 people to Ukraine.

    Meanwhile in a press conference today, Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai stresses MAS was not the only airlines using that route, stating 15 of 16 Asia-Pacific airlines were using it as all.

    DAP offers assistance

    4.08pm: Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh says DAP will render any assistance to families of the victims and towards pending investigations, here and abroad.

    The lawyer urges all quarters not to politicise this painful event.

    "Whether or not this is a murderous terrorist act is yet to be seen and any speculation ought to be avoided," he says in a statement.

    He calls for full cooperation from all parties regardless of political affiliation.

    "It is imperative that no stone is left unturned in the unravelling of the narative of this tragic episode which may have far-reaching consequences due to the circumstances surrounding it, particularly in light of global terror, which has recently become a threat to the world in recent times," he says.

    Donetsk to call ceasefire?

    4.05am : The Guardian reports that as many as 100 of the world's leading HIV/Aids researchers and advocates may have been on MH17, which has been described as a "devastating" blow to efforts to tackle the virus.

    It adds that delegates to a plenary session held ahead of the Aids 2014 conference were told that email exchanges showed about 100 attendees were booked on the MH17 flight.

    There was no official confirmation of the number of researchers on board.

    3.50pm: According to Interfax , the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) militants are ready to announce a cease fire or truce period for the MH17 rescuers and investigators to visit the crash scene.

    Najib's grandmother was on the plane

    3.20pm: Star Online confirms that one of the 43 Malaysian passengers on board was Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's step-grandmother, Siti Amirah.

    Family spokesperson Dr Faridah Abdullah says Siti Amirah, 83, who was once married to Mohammad Noah Omar (Najib and Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein's grandfather) was travelling alone on her way back to Jogjakarta from Amsterdam.

    "She was a very, very nice lady. A kind-hearted beautiful woman. She was a homemaker who looked after my grandfather very well," says Faridah, who is chairperson of the Mohammad Noah Foundation.

    Second recorder found

    2.50pm: Russia's Pravda newspaper reports that 121 bodies have been recovered from the crash site, according to the state emergency service of Ukraine.

    2.40pm : Reuters reports that rescue workers have recovered a second flight recorder.

    Ukraine embassy: No air defence system used

    2.05pm: The Ukraine embassy in Malaysia denies the country played any part in downing flight MH17 and pointed at "pro-Russian terrorist and Russia-made weapon" instead.

    "We do not exclude that this aircraft was also attacked and we would like to emphasise that at all-times when conducting the anti-terrorist operations, the air defense systems of the Armed Forces of Ukraine have never been used," says the embassy in a press statement.

    "And there were no Ukrainian fighters in the air at the time of tragedy," it adds.

    The embassy instead stood by information released by the Ukraine secret service shortly after the incident.

    "In a few hours after the incident, the Secret Service of Ukraine received and released the irrefutable evidences that this plane was shot down by pro-Russian terrorists and by the Russia made weapon," it says.

    2pm: Russia's RT News channel carries a news report that Malaysian Airlines MH17 plane was travelling along almost the same route as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s jet shortly before the crash that killed 298 people.

    RT republished an Interfax news agency which quoted an anonymous sources saying that Putin had just flown past Ukraine about 35 minutes before MH17, using a look-alike plane. "The contours of the aircrafts are similar, linear dimensions are also very similar, as for the colouring, at a quite remote distance they are almost identical," the source added.

    This report has however since been refuted at Gazeta.ru online news portal, which has sources saying that Putin does not fly over the conflict-gripped neighbouring country. He was also on his way back from Brazil to Moscow.

    MAS: Plane had clean bill of health

    1.50pm: In a statement, MAS says the B777-200 aircraft bearing registration no. 9M-MRD that operated MH17 had a clean maintenance record. The aircraft's last maintenance check was on July 11 and the next check was due on Aug 27.

    The maintenance was conducted at Malaysia Airlines’ hangar at KLIA. The aircraft had a clean bill of health.

    The aircraft was manufactured in July 1997, and so had 17 years in service. The aircraft had recorded 75,322 hours with a total of 11,434 cycles.

    All communication system on the aircraft were functioning normally.

    1.20pm: Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai visits family members and loved ones of those on board MH170 at the visitor centre located at KLIA.

    Liow, who just came back from China this morning, did not address the media.

    Some airlines avoided Ukraine route

    1.15pm: Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein denies allegation that MH17 was shot down for flying over a forbidden zone, Bernama reports.

    This concurred with a preliminary assessment from the International Air Transport Association ( IATA), which also stated earlier that the airspace "was not subject to restrictions."

    However, a New York Times report highlights that other airlines such as Air France and British Airways have already been avoiding flying past Ukraine in their eastern-bound flights even before the MH17 tragedy due to armed conflict in the region.

    Penang flags at half-mast

    12.35pm: Penang government orders state flags to be flown at half-mast for at least three days, as a sign of mourning and in honour of lives lost in the MH17 tragedy.

    Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng says all state agencies are instructed to do so and they will decide later whether to extend the move to a further three days.

    "This is a cruel tragedy, we want to express our condolences, not only to the families of passengers but also crew members, no matter if they are from Malaysia or other countries, " Lim says after witnessing one of the flag-lowering ceremonies at the ground floor of the state administration office in Komtar.

    He describes the incident as a "mass murder" as there seems to be no element of technical malfunction.

    MH370 did not deter Wan Ahmad from flying

    12.30pm: According to his cousin, last night's flight was to have been the last for MH17 pilot Captain Wan Amran Wan Hussin before he began to prepare for the upcoming Hari Raya.

    The cousin, known only as Umi, 50, says Wan Amran was planning to bring his wife and two children back to his Kuala Kangsar hometown.

    "He is a friendly and responsible guy, cares for his family," she tells reporters at the viewing area at KLIA, where family members of passengers have been registering with MAS.

    She adds that Wan Amran wasn't scared to fly following the MH370 crisis.

    "He has no problem with MAS, and MAS has no problem with him.

    "How do I feel? How would you feel if you have lost a family member, that is how I feel," she says.

    "Many tragedies have occurred (in Malaysia), the leader should look into why these have happened," she adds.

    MAS questioned for using risky route

    12.44pm: PAS Youth criticises MAS for persisting in using a known risky route.

    "With such a dangerous record, MAS should have not used the Ukraine airspace as part of its route,"  says PAS Youth chief Suhaizan Kaiat ( right ) in a statement.

    Read more here .

    12.30pm: The Malaysian Crisis Intervention Team (MCIT) says it will station 20 psychologists at several locations, including KLIA, to aid families and others affected by the tragedy.

    "Our people will act as a professional team to handle the problems of stress, conflict and anxiety as well as to stabilise the emotions of the families of the passengers and crew," Bernama quotes MCIT deputy chairperson Dr Abdul Jalil Hassan as saying.

    US says missile system 'turned on' before crash

    12.23pm: CNN reports that the US government has concluded that MH17 was shot down by a missile although it has not identified the shooter.

    Quoting a senior US official , CNN reports a radar system saw a surface-to-air missile system "turned on" and tracking an aircraft right before the plane went down.

    And a second system saw a heat signature at the time the airliner was hit.

    The US is analysing the trajectory of the missile to pinpoint where the attack came from, the official says.

    Crash 'looks less like an accident'

    12.20pm: Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko ( left ) says an emergency commission has been formed to probe the MH17 disaster.

    "An Emergency State Commission has been established to investigate the reasons of the disaster. Experts from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the Netherlands, Malaysia and United States will be involved," Poroshenko tells CNN .

    "I express deep and sincere condolences to families and friends of the innocent victims. Ukraine grieves with you."

    Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the downing of MH17 "looks less like an accident than a crime."

    There were 27 Australians on board the ill-fated airline

    Abbott tells the Australian Parliament that the perpetrators must be brought to justice.

    "This is a grim day for our country. We owe it...to the families of the dead to find out exactly what happened and who is responsible," he says.

    Ceasefire called to enable investigations

    11.40am: The US has urged an immediate ceasefire between Russia, Ukraine and separatist forces to allow an international investigation to move into the affected site.

    The Guardian reports that the White House says it is critical that a "full, credible and unimpeded international investigation" is initiated as quickly as possible.

    "We urge all concerned - Russia, the pro-Russian separatists, and Ukraine - to support an immediate ceasefire in order to ensure safe and unfettered access to the crash site for international investigators and in order to facilitate the recovery of the remains.

    "It is vital that no evidence be tampered with in any way and that all potential evidence and remains at the crash site are undisturbed.

    "The US remains prepared to contribute immediate assistance to any international investigation, including through resources provided by the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) and Federal Bureau of Investigation."

    MCA: Don't embarrass M'sia in eyes of the world

    11.40am: MCA publicity bureau deputy chairperson Marco Yap calls on Malaysians and "especially netizens" to be responsible when disseminating news about the incident.

    Yap says the people should not embarrass the government in the eyes of the world but stand behind it.

    "Criticisms and insults will not help resolve this tragedy, and spreading unverified news will only be adding salt to the wounds already suffered by the relatives of the victims.

    "The people are also urged to stand behind the government and the nation, so that we may face this tragedy as one.

    "Rumours and criticisms will only complicate matters, as well as embarrass Malaysia in the international arena," he says, adding it will be best for Malaysians to just "offer a quiet prayer".

    Allianz lead insurer

    11.25am: Reuters and Bloomberg report that Germany's Allianz SE is the lead hull and liability reinsurer covering MH17, and that Willis Group Holdings brokered the insurance.

    "As leading re-insurer of MAS for aviation hull and liability coverage, Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty stands by to support our client as fully and quickly as possible," Bloomberg quotes Allianz spokesperson Jacqueline Maher as saying.

    The reports stat that the London-based insurance broker Aon Plc valued the downed aircraft at about $97.3 million (RM310.95 million).

    Allianz and Willis were also the lead insurer and broker for MH370.

    11.20am: Mercy Malaysia has despatched a team of psychologists and counselors to KLIA.

    The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports that five psychologists and counselors were sent there this morning.

    Quoting psychologist Dr Hariyati Shahrima Abdul Majid, it reports the Mercy Malaysia team is also providing counselling to MAS crew.

    The organisation says they hope to send in 50 more specialists to the airport.

    MH370 steward's kin reaches out

    11am: As condolences pour in over the fate of MH17, for a MH370's next of kin, old wounds are opening up again.

    Just shortly after midnight, Maira Elizabeth Nari, whose father a cabin crew member aboard missing flight MH370, reaches out to families of those on board MH17.

    "As the family member of the crew MH370, and on behalf of all them, we pray for MH17. Stay strong dear families," Maira tweets using the handle @Gorgxous_

    "I can't seem to concentrate in class. My heart goes to the family of the crew and passengers of MH17," she says.

    This is the second MAS tragedy in less than five months.

    Family members asked to register

    10am: More and more family members of those on board MH17 are arriving at the airport.

    Like those who have gathered there as early as 7am, they are asked to register before being sent to Marriot Hotel, Putrajaya, for a briefing by MAS.

    One next-of-kin, Siti Dina, says her daughter Sharizah Zaini, 45, son-in-law and her three grandchildren, aged eight to 15, were on their way to Melbourne and were to have transitted at KLIA.

    She says she heard of their fate at 12.45am through CNN .

    Unable to contain her emotions, she soon breaks down in tears.

    Actor flayed for MAS joke

    10.54am: Hollywood actor Jason Biggs is facing heat after cracking a joke on Twitter just hours after the MH17 tragedy, earning him a trashing from netizens.

    According to Huffington Post , the American Pie actor tweeted: "Anyone want to buy my Malaysian Airlines frequent flier miles?"

    However, he did follow this up with another tweet: "It's saddest for the victims and their families, obviously. But Malaysia Airlines is apparently a GREAT airline. Gonna be tough to recover."

    But this did little to put out the fire. Biggs, however, turns on his accusers, saying his joke did not mean he did not empathise with those affected by the crisis.

    "Truly - you losers are literally trying to find shit to get angry about. Channel your issues elsewhere," Biggs wrote.

    Liow assumes command

    10.26am: In his first big test as transport minister after taking over from Hishammuddin Hussein last month , Liow Tiong Lai ( left ) will take charge of the MH17 matter.

    He tells The Star that he was busy in Beijing on MH370 matters but has dropped it for the sake of MH17.

    "I am checking with MAS. I will be back in Malaysia today and will take charge. I am here (Beijing) to talk about MH370 but since this has happened I will have to rush back," he said last night.

    He is expected to arrive back in Kuala Lumpur at 7am today.

    Anwar: MH17 tragedy is 'mass murder'

    10.15am: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim calls for the perpetrators of this "mass murder" to be brought to justice.

    "We condemn this act of terrorism and urge the international authorities to conduct a full and independent investigation and to bring to justice the perpetrators of this mass murder,” he says in a statement expressing his sadness at the downing of MAS flight MH17.

    "Our deepest condolences go to the relatives and loved ones of the passengers and crew who perished in this horrific mid-air disaster.

    "We call on MAS and the Malaysian authorities to do their utmost in handling the disaster and in particular be utterly sensitive to the feelings and totally responsive to the needs of the families and loved ones."

    The tragedy has elicited a similar outpouring of condolences and calls for solidarity from politicians and civil society.

    Ukranian gov't 'working round the clock' to investigate

    10am: Ukranian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin says his government is working "in extremely high pace round the clock" on the case.     

    Bernama reports Klimkin saying this during a briefing at Government House in Kiev, according to the Ukrainian government's website.   

    "Experts involved in the investigation of this case are working round the clock. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) will work closely with the Emergency Ministry.     

    "We have created in the MFA a special line for anyone who would like to get more information on that (tragedy)," he adds.     

    Klimkin also expresses deepest condolences to relatives and friends of everyone who was on the plane.

    "It's indeed an extremely tragic event we're all experiencing now. It's the third case in recent days after two Ukrainian planes -Antonov-26 and SU-25 - were shot down from the Russian territory," says the minister.  

    He also says that Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has ordered the setting up of a special government commission to investigate the circumstances of the tragedy.   

    15 years since last shootdown

    9.50am: Bernama lists major commercial airliners shot down over the last 40 years prior to last night's:     

    • February 21, 1973: Libyan Airlines Flight 114 from Tripoli to Cairo shot down over Sinai Peninsula by Israeli F-4 Phantom II fighters, killing 113 people on board.     

  • September 1, 1983: A total of 269 passengers and crew of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 were killed after the flight was shot down by a Soviet Su-15TM fighter aircraft near Moneron Island, west of Sakhalin Island, in the Sea of Japan. The aircraft was flying from Anchorage to Seoul.      
  • July 3, 1988: A total of 290 passengers and crew of Iran Air Flight 655 were killed after the plane was shot down by the United States Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes. The attack took place in Iranian airspace, over Iran's territorial waters in the Persian Gulf. The plane was flying from Tehran to Dubai.      
  • September 29, 1998: Lionair Flight LN 602, operated by an Antonov An-24RV, fell into the sea off the north-western coast of Sri Lanka under mysterious circumstances, killing the 47 passengers and crew. However, some reports said it was shot down by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels.    
  • Europe reroutes flights

    9.46am: The Guardian reports that Flight MH17 was cruising 300 metres above restricted airspace when it was believed to have been struck down by a missile.

    Eurocontrol, the European air traffic control body, says the passenger jet was travelling in "open" airspace at 33,000 feet.

    However, it claims this was still within range of "sophisticated ground-to-air weaponry".

    The Guardian further quotes the agency as saying all flights in eastern Ukraine have been barred from the area.

    The report also reveals that British airlines obtained the "all-clear" to fly overhead the same area a month ago, as "operations were 'normal' in the region".

    "A notice posted by the UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on June 14 urged carriers to avoid overflying Crimea and parts of southern Ukraine a month ago due to safety concerns, but they were not ordered to avoid the rest of the country," reports The Guardian .

    9.30am: Malaysian Aids Council's Joselyn Pang pays tribute to International Aids Society (IAS) former president Joep Lange ( right ), who was on board Flight MH17.

    "I remember a very soft-spoken gentleman, kind and strong in his conviction to fight for treatment access for people living with HIV. A great loss to his family, friends and peers," says Pang, who heads the council's Global Fund Project Management unit.

    "I am sitting down in silence, tears, digesting the news. And a silent moment to all the lives, who somehow made a difference and impact to others, no less than the person I know."

    MAS shares tumble

    9.10am: MAS shares tumble today following news of the MH17 crash yesterday.

    Reuters reports that shares slid 15.6 percent, a three-week low.

    "Shares of the national carrier were trading at 19 sen per share at 101 GMT, while the broader index was down 0.5 percent," it reports.

    8.53am: MAS says it will only release the passenger manifest once the families have been informed.

    "We are in the process of notifying next-of-kin. Once all have been notified, the passenger manifest will be released," reads its tweet.

    Prominent Aids researcher among dead

    8.50am: Former International Aids Society (IAS) president Joep Lange is among one of the passengers confirmed dead in the Flight MH17 tragedy.

    According to The West Australian , Lange was part of a group of delegates heading for the 20th annual international Aids conference in Melbourne, slated to begin on Sunday.

    Putin: Ukraine solely responsible

    8.30am: Russian President Vladamir Putin says Ukraine bears "sole responsibility" for MH17's crash, saying it will not have happened if Ukraine did not renew military operations against pro-Russian separatists in the region.

    "Without doubt the government of the territory on which it happened bears responsibility for this frightening tragedy," Foreign Policy (FP) magazine quotes him as saying, adding that he pledges to assist investigations.

    Meanwhile, the same report quotes the prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, Aleksandr Boroday, saying he is committed to an impartial investigation and will allow foreign investigators to inspect the crash site.

    His deputy had earlier said that MH17's black boxes would be handed to Russia.

    Germany: Grant immediate access to crash site

    8.13am: Germany's leaders are demanding an independant international probe into the tragedy.

    Reuters reports German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier making the call today, with Steinmeier saying: "If this news (of plane being shot down) is confirmed, she (Merkel) said it would represent a further tragic escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine."

    Steinmeier also says separatists must grant emergency and security services access to the crash site.

    "I'm horrified by the news from eastern Ukraine. With hundreds of completely innocent people having died in this terrible way, words fail you," he reportedly says.

    Meanwhile UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also joins the call for an independent probe.

    AFP quotes him saying that he is closely monitoring the reports, "along with the International Civil Aviation Organisation, a United Nations agency".

    "For the moment, I offer my deep condolences to families and loved ones of the victims and people of Malaysia," Ban says.

    43 Malaysians on board

    7.30am: Malaysia Airlines (MAS) announces that all its European flights will be taking alternative routes and avoiding the usual route.

    "The usual flight route was earlier declared safe by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. International Air Transportation Association has stated that the airspace the aircraft was traversing was not subject to restrictions," MAS maintains in a statement.

    The airlines, reeling from its second tragedy in four months, also confirms the ill-fated aircraft did not make any distress call prior to the crash.

    Also, it clarifies that there were 298 people on board Flight MH17, comprising 283 passengers "including three infants of various nationalities" and 15 crew members.

    Of these, it now says there were 43 Malaysians on board, including the crew and two infants.

    "Malaysia Airlines is deploying its 'Go Team' to Amsterdam  with a group of caregivers and volunteers to assist the family members of the passengers."

    It says families of passengers and crew may contact +603 7884 1234 (Malaysia) or +31703487770(Netherlands).

    Separatist leader boasted of shooting plane

    7am: At about the time contact was lost with MH17, pro-Russian separatist leader Igor Strelkov reportedly gloated about shooting down a Ukrainian AN-26 transport jet.

    However, his posting said the shoot-down was made at 5.50pm Moscow time (9.50pm Malaysian time), 25 minutes before contact was lost with MH17 at 10.15pm (Malaysian time).

    The posting was made on the Russian social networking site VKontakte .

    "Strelkov's page claimed responsibility for taking down a Ukrainian jet and posted and accompanying video that shows smoke rising from what is now believed to be the crash site of the passenger jet…

    "That post now appears to have been removed," Foreign Policy (FP) magazine reports on its blog.

    The report adds that Strelkov is now claiming that his troops are not responsible for shooting down MH17 and is not capable of downing an aircraft flying at that altitude.

    Hisham: We will find culprits

    5.30am: Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein says the Malaysian military have been instructed to verify reports from Russia that MH17 was down as the plane flew over Ukranian airspace.

    "No confirmation it (MH17) was shot down! Our military have been instructed to get on it," he posted on Twitter late last night.

    In a more recent posting, the minister vows to bring those responsible to justice, should the claim be found to be true.

    "MH17: If indeed our plane was brought down, those responsible WILL be brought to justice!," he tweets.

    Background:

    • A Malaysian passenger airliner with 298 people on board crashed in Ukraine late yesterday.

     

  • The Boeing 777-200 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur and was due to arrive at 6am this morning.
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  • Reports also claimed that the plane could have been hit by a missile as it flew over a conflict zone.
  •  

  • However, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak says it has yet to confirm if the jetliner was shot down but vows a full investigation and " swift justice ".
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