A hunt for wreckage and evidence is underway in eastern Ukraine Friday after a Malaysia Airlines jetliner with 298 passengers was shot down.
U.S. intelligence authorities said a surface-to-air missile brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Thursday as it flew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, but could not say who fired it.
The Ukraine government in Kiev, the separatist pro-Russia rebels they are fighting and the Russia government that Ukraine accuses of supporting the rebels all deny shooting the passenger plane down. Moscow also denies backing the rebels.
Bodies, debris and burning wreckage of the Boeing 777 were strewn over a field near the rebel-held village of Hrabove in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Russian border, where fighting has raged for months.
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Get the latest updates and expert analysis about the crash in the WTOP live blog.
Ben Mutzabaugh - airline reporter for USA Today
If airlines avoid flying over Ukraine, it could lengthening cross-continent flights, use more fuel and ultimately increase the cost of tickets for consumers.
Malaysia Airlines was struggling financially even before the disappearance of Flight MH370. Today's plane disaster will not help the company's financial problems even though the company was not at fault.
Double disasters taint Malaysia Airlines
Hit by two astonishing tragedies in quick succession, the Malaysia Airlines brand may become the airline industry's equivalent of asbestos or News of the World: toxic to the public and, experts say, impossible to redeem.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was downed over eastern Ukraine on Thursday with 298 people aboard by what American intelligence authorities believe was a surface-to-air missile. Just four months earlier, a Malaysia Airlines jetliner carrying 239 people disappeared about an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur. The jet has still not been found, a source of profound unease for travelers and the aviation industry.
"I can't comprehend of anything they can do to save themselves," said Mohshin Aziz, an aviation analyst at Maybank in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
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Official: 181 bodies found at Malaysian plane site
A Ukrainian official says 181 bodies have been located so far at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine Foreign Ministry representative Andriy Sybiga cited local emergency workers at the site for the numbers Friday. He said the bodies will be taken to Kharkiv, a government-controlled city 270 kilometers (170 miles) north of the crash site, for identification.
Authorities say 298 people were killed when the plane traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down Thursday.
Woman loses relatives in 2 Malaysia air disasters
An Australian woman who lost her brother in the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has now learned that her stepdaughter was on the Malaysia Airlines flight shot down over Ukraine.
Kaylene Mann's brother Rod Burrows and sister-in-law Mary Burrows were on Flight 370 when it vanished in March. On Friday, she found out that her stepdaughter, Maree Rizk, was killed along with 297 other passengers on board Flight 17 when it crashed in Ukraine.
Mann's brother Greg Burrows says news of the second tragedy to hit the family has "ripped our guts again."
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MH17’s flight plan was approved by Eurocontrol, who are solely responsible for determining civil aircraft flight paths over European airspace. Eurocontrol is the air navigation service provider for Europe and is governed under ICAO rules.
The route over Ukrainian airspace where the incident occurred is commonly used for Europe to Asia flights. A flight from a different carrier was on the same route at the time of the MH17 incident, as were a number of other flights from other carriers in the days and weeks before. Eurocontrol maintains records of all flights across European airspace, including those across Ukraine.
In April, the International Civil Aviation Organization identified an area over the Crimean peninsula as risky. At no point did MH17 fly into, or request to fly into, this area. At all times, MH17 was in airspace approved by the ICAO.
MH17 filed a flight plan requesting to fly at 35,000ft throughout Ukrainian airspace. This is close to the ‘optimum’ altitude.
However, an aircraft’s altitude in flight is determined by air traffic control on the ground. Upon entering Ukrainian airspace, MH17 was instructed by Ukrainian air traffic control to fly at 33,000ft.
Following this afternoon’s press conference, Malaysia Airlines can confirm that a further 16 passengers’ nationalities have been verified. The latest breakdown of nationalities of those on board the flight is as follows:
· 189 Netherlands
· 44 Malaysia
· 27 Australia
· 12 Indonensia
· 9 UK
· 4 Belgium
· 4 Germany
· 3 Philippines
· 1 Canada
· 1 New Zealand
Four passengers’ nationalities remain to be verified.
New flight route
Following this incident, Malaysia Airlines now avoids Ukrainian airspace entirely, flying further south over Turkey.
Mark Rosenker, CBS aviation analyst and former National Transportation Safety Board chair, says he would be very wary to send NTSB representatives to the crash site unless there were full assurance of a cease-fire.
“This should be a very open, it should be a very transparent international professional investigation in order to guarantee the truth comes out,” he says.
The black boxes could have been obtained already and transported to Russia, Rosenker says.
When asked if he trusts Russians not to tamper with the black boxes and the date, Rosenker says he would trust the Russians in a normal type of accident investigation, but in this situation he doesn’t.
Here's the latest on Malaysia Flight 17 that was shot down over Ukraine -- killing nearly 300 on board.
A massive effort is underway to find wreckage, identify bodies and comb the crash site for evidence.
It's still not clear how many or if any Americans were on board.
Ukraine has called for international help -- and the U.S. is offering resources for the investigation.
It's still not clear who fired the missle. The Ukraine government, Russian separatists and the Russian government are all denying involvement.
The region has seen recent violence and heavy fighting. Pro-Russian rebels bragged about shooting down two Ukrainian military jets just a day earlier.
The U.N. Security Council has approved a statement calling for "a full, thorough and independent international investigation" of a downed Malaysian Airlines plane in eastern Ukraine.
The press statement expresses the council's "deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims, and to the people and governments of all those killed in the crash."
The council called for an investigation "in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines and for appropriate accountability."
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Shawn Jain - director of communications for Whitman Walker Health. He previously served as communications coordinator for the 2012 international AIDS conference held in D.C.
"To hear that these folks, who were giants in the field, were lost in such a tragic way on their way to the International AIDS Conference is an incalculable loss."
He says HIV/AIDS researchers are a "resilient group" and they will carry on the torch.
The conferences are generally a time of reflection on the lives lost and continue to be lost to AIDS.
"To have this happen only compounds the sense of loss that many cope with at this event."