MH17: What we know so far

Last updated 08:54 18/07/2014

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Here's what is known, and what has been claimed, about the crash of a Malaysian jetliner carrying 298 people in eastern Ukraine:

THE PLANE

A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER, which the carrier said was carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew members on Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. After leaving Amsterdam at 12.15pm local time, the aircraft was due to land at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 6.10am local time the following day.

THE ROUTE

Though Ukrainian military aircraft have been shot down over eastern Ukraine by rebels, and the area has been the scene of fierce fighting, the route taken by the Malaysian jet appears to have been subject to no flight restrictions, the International Air Transport Association, an industry group, said. Eurocontrol, a European air safety oragnisation, said the plane apparently was flying at approximately 10,000 metres (33,000 feet), which was authorised, although Ukrainian authorities had closed the airspace at lower altitudes.

THE CRASH

Malaysia Airlines said it was notified by Ukrainian authorities that they lost contact with the plane when it was 30 kilometres from the Tamak waypoint, approximately 50km from the Ukraine-Russia border. The plane-tracking service FlightAware.com said the last reported position for MH17 was at 10,000m just west of Ukraine's border with Russia. Ukrainian authorities reported the crash, and an Associated Press journalist found the site near a village held by pro-Russia fighters 40km from the Russia border. The reporter said the aircraft appeared to have broken up before impact. Burning wreckage and the belongings of passengers were strewn over a wide area.

THE CAUSE

An adviser to Ukraine's interior minister said the plane was shot down with a missile, but gave no proof. In a counterclaim, a pro-Moscow separatist leader said he was certain that it was Ukrainian troops who downed the airliner, but also offered no explanation or proof. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko earlier denied his country's armed forces fired on any aerial targets. Independent Western defence experts told the AP that both Ukrainian and Russian armed forces possess SA-17 missile launchers capable of reaching an altitude of 20,000m, but that there is no evidence that such weapons systems are in the hands of the rebels.

THE PASSENGERS

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A Dutch travel agency said his company had booked 25 people, all Dutch nationals, on the flight. Several relatives of Malaysian passengers arrived at the international airport in Kuala Lumpur. There was no immediate word about other passengers or crew.

THE REACTION

US President Barack Obama, who was informed by Russian President Vladimir Putin during a phone call of reports of a downed passenger jet, asked that his advisers keep him updated. Boeing offered any assistance that authorities might request. Eurocontrol said Ukrainian authorities informed it that all air space in Eastern Ukraine has now been closed, and that any flight plans filed using these routes will be rejected by Eurocontrol until further notice.

- AP

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