A MALAYSIAN PASSENGER plane carrying 295 people has crashed in eastern Ukraine.
A Ukrainian government official said it had been “shot down” in an apparent missile strike.
The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin has said that Ukraine ‘bears responsibility’ for the crash.
US officials confirmed tonight that a surface-to-air missile shot down the passenger jet.
Ukraine’s president called the loss of the plane an “act of terrorism” but rebels denied shooting it down.
Malaysia Airlines confirmed in a statement that Ukrainian Air Traffic Control had lost contact with flight MH17 from Amsterdam “at 30km from Tamak waypoint, approximately 50km from the Russia-Ukraine border”. A Malaysian investigation team are on the way to Ukraine.
The plane was en route to Kuala Lumpur.
It is believed that all on board have been killed in the tragedy.
The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told TheJournal.ie said the Department was aware of the situation, and was liaising with the relevant embassies in Prague and the Hague.
The nationalities of those on board have been released at a press conference. They are as follows:
- 154 Dutch
- 27 Australians
- 23 Malaysians
- 11 Indonesians
- 6 UK nationals
- 4 Germans
- 4 Belgians
- 3 Filipinos
- 1 Canadian
All crew members were from Malaysia. Other nationalities have not yet been determined.
There’s no indication that any Irish people were on board the flight.
Dozens of severely mutilated corpses are strewn in the wreckage of the airliner that, an AFP reporter at the scene said.
The reporter said debris was spread out for kilometres.
Meanwhile, Associated Press said one of its journalists had counted at least 22 bodies at the wreckage site.
Photos broadcast by the Russian channel LifeNews showed the bodies of a number of passenger, and smoke rising from the smouldering wreckage.
‘Explode in mid-air’
Eyewitnesses told AFP that the jet appeared to explode in mid-air before wreckage rained down over a large area.
Shocked local residents struggled to take in the scene of the carnage and said that remnants of the jet had been found in a village some 9 kilometres from the centre of the crash site.
“I had just gone to sleep at around 1600 (1300 GMT) when I heard an enormous bang,” Katya, 64, told AFP. “It was like an earthquake.”
Her daughter Natalya, 36, said that she had fled to safety when the sound of the explosion rumbled overhead.
“I took my baby and went and hid in the basement,” she said.
There was no sign of any rescue workers going through the gruesome site.
Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Minister, said earlier on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 10,000 metres when it was hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher.
He said in a press conference that the were not treating the incident as an “accident” but an “act of terrorism”.
The country’s president, Petro Poroshenko, has ordered an investigation into what he called the Malaysian “airplane catastrophe”.
In a statement released in the wake of the crash, he said the plane disappeared from radar screens at 4.20pm local time.
The statement expresses “deep and sincere condolences” to relatives of those on board and says a full search and rescue effort is under way.
And it says the “Armed Forces of Ukraine did not take action against any airborne targets”.
The statement concludes by saying the Ukrainian government wants to make sure the “perpetrators of the tragedy” are brought to justice.
Meanwhile, separatist leader Alexander Borodai has insisted the plane was shot down by Ukrainian government forces.
Ukraine rebels say ready for temporary truce after plane crash, reports AFP.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he was “shocked” at the tragedy.
The Donetsk region government said the crash had happened near a village called Grabovo, which it said was currently under the control of separatists.
The region has seen severe fighting in recent days. In the latest incident before today’s crash, a Ukrainian fighter was shot down by an air-to-air missile from a Russian plane.
Airlines have been paying their respects to those that have lost their lives:
There are reports that the plane may have been flying in restricted air space, however this has been disputed:
Sky News reports that the black box from the flight has been found.
President Obama has told aides to keep in touch with Ukraine officials and keep him briefed on the situation, according to White House Press Corps reporters.
A number of videos said to be from the region and posted online today show thick plumes of smoke rising from an apparent crash site.
None of the footage has been independently verified…
Includes reporting from AP & AFP.
Additional reporting Christina Finn