Ukraine: Malaysia Airlines flight shot down, 298 deaths. Moscow and Kiev trade blame
Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The shooting down of the Malaysian Airlines flight yesterday over Ukarnain airspace has thrown Malaysia into "deep shock". The country is still reeling from the recent disappearance of a flight belonging to the same airline, an accident still shrouded in mystery.
Commenting on yesterday afternoon's shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, spoke of "tragic day" in the context of "a tragic year,". The government in Kuala Lumpur adds that "there should be no obstacles of any kind" in investigations, which should be quick and effective.
Meanwhile, Kiev and Moscow and the Russian separatists in Ukraine are playing the blame game, although so far it is still uncertain who is responsible for the tragedy; the plane crashed between Krasni Luch, Luhansk region, and Shakhtarsk, in the neighboring Donetsk region.
The plane, carrying 298 people, crashed into a rebel-controlled territory of Ukraine, not far from the border with Russia; the Boeing 777 had departed from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and was bound for Kuala Lumpur. In a statement, the airline points out that there were 154 Dutch citizens, 27 Australians, 43 Malaysians (including 15 crew members), 12 Indonesians and nine British citizens on board. There are also German, Belgian, Canadian and Filipino passengers, while the nationality of the other 41 people is still unknown.
Malaysia Airlines, like other airlines, has announced it will change the flight path of its aircraft bound for Europe, which in future will avoid the skies of eastern Ukraine. Meanwhile, the authorities in Kiev have announced a no-fly zone in the area, to prevent further accidents. In the crash, which residents have likened to "an earthquake," dozens of mutilated bodies and human remains were visible, a scenario rescuers described as terrifying.
According to anonymous U.S. sources, the plane was hit by a sophisticated ground-to-air missile while flying at an altitude of about 10 thousand meters. Washington has called for a temporary ceasefire to facilitate the work of the rescuers and investigators to shed light on the tragedy. The United Nations Security Council has called an emergency meeting.
The Malaysian Prime Minister Najib said that "if investigations show that the plane was shot down" those responsible "must be swiftly brought to justice." The President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko says it was an "act of terrorism" and points the finger at Moscow; Ukraine's Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin has spoken of an intercepted conversation that proves the plane was shot down by Russian separatists. This has provoked the indignant reaction of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who accused the Ukrainian government because it has resumed military operations in the area in an attempt to regain portions of land in the hands of rebels linked to Moscow.
For the second time in four months, a Boeing 777 Malaysia Airlines has been involved in a plane crash; on March 8 last, flight MH370, left Kuala Lumpur headed to Beijing, carrying 239 people, mostly Chinese, disappeared from the radar. Despite a prolonged international search effort, with the use of ships and aircraft, no trace of the aircraft was found. The plane is believed to have gone down in the Indian Ocean south, after it changed its course. The reasons for the change in route are unknown. Thus far it is impossible to know if the plane's disappearance was an accident or an extreme act of the pilot, although the hypothesis of a terrorist attack has been discarded.