No Survivors: Malaysian Flight MH17 Shot Down Over Ukraine

On July 17, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17/MAS17), a scheduled international passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed near Hrabove (area under military control of Donbass People’s Militia) in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine about 40 km (25 mi) from the Ukraine–Russia border. It is believed to have been shot down by pro-Russian separatists, armed with a Buk surface-to-air missile. All 283 passengers and 15 crew on board the Boeing 777-200ER airliner died. The crash occurred in the conflict zone of the ongoing Donbass insurgency, in the area controlled by pro-Russian rebel groups.

According to Ukrainian Interior Ministry official, Anton Gerashchenko, a Buk missile hit the aircraft at an altitude of 10,000 m (33,000 ft). Ukrainian security services said they intercepted two phone conversations in which pro-Russian separatists discuss with Russian intelligence officers having just shot down a civilian plane. On 19 July, Vitaly Nayda, the chief of the Counter- Intelligence Department of the SBU, told a news conference: “We have compelling evidence that this terrorist act was committed with the help of the Russian Federation. We know clearly that the crew of this system were Russian citizens.”

The pro-Russian separatists denied the recorded talks were related to the crash of MH17. Alleged separatist conversations with Russian intelligence agents were also intercepted, in which rebels reportedly express satisfaction that they are in possession of a Buk missile system. President Barack Obama, citing U.S. intelligence officials, said the plane was shot down by a missile and that there was “credible evidence” it was fired from a location held by pro-Russian rebels.

The crash was the airline’s second major incident of the year. Flight 370 (Boeing 777-200ER 9M-MRO) disappeared on 8 March en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. The disappearance of Flight MH370 remains a mystery. With 298 deaths, MH17 is the deadliest aviation incident since the September 11 attacks, the deadliest air accident in Ukraine, the deadliest-ever Boeing 777 hull loss and the deadliest incident in Malaysia Airlines’ history.

On 19 July, Malaysia Airlines released the full list of passengers and crew. In a statement, the airline said it is still unable to contact the next of kin for all the victims, and that friends and family of should contact the Malaysia Airlines Family Support Center at +603 7884 1234 in Malaysia.

Among the passengers were approximately 100 delegates en route to the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, including Joep Lange, a former president of the International AIDS Society, which organizes the conference. Also on board was Dutch senator Willem Witteveen, his wife and daughter; Cor Schilder (Pan), [importance?] drummer and vocalist of Vast Countenance, and his girlfriend; Australian author Liam Davison, travelling with his wife; and Malaysian actress Shuba Jaya, [importance?] her husband and baby.

The names of each passenger is noted in the second column, while passengers’ nationality and sex are noted in columns three and four, respectively. See the full list of names below. 

A wave of international outrage over how the bodies of the plane crash victims were being handled came after journalists reported reeking bodies baking in the summer heat, piled into body bags by the side of the road or still sprawled where they landed in the verdant farmland in eastern Ukraine after their plane was shot out of the sky.

The international community also expressed concern over reports that rebels who control the crash site could be tampering with the evidence there, prompting U.S. and European leaders to demand that Russian President Vladimir Putin make sure rebels give international investigators full access to the crash site.

Donetsk rebel leader Alexander Borodai said the bodies recovered from the crash site would remain in four refrigerated train cars in the rebel-held town of Torez, 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the crash site, until the arrival of an international aviation delegation. He also said the plane’s black boxes have been recovered and will be handed over to the International Civil Aviation Organization.

On July 20, in a blistering opinion piece for the Sunday Times, UK Prime Minister David Cameron called the attack a “direct result of Russia destabilizing a sovereign state, violating its territorial integrity, backing thuggish militias and training and arming them.”

“We must turn this moment of outrage into a moment of action,” Cameron added.

However, it is important to note that the investigation is ongoing and much of what is known now has been funneled through various sources and may be unreliable.

This post will be updated periodically as more information becomes available.


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