NEW INFORMATION: One American among dead; US focuses on rebels

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

Other passenger planes have been shot down before including:

- April 20, 1978: Korean Airlines Flight 902, which diverted from its planned course on a flight from Paris to Seoul and strayed over the Soviet Union. After being fired upon by an interceptor aircraft, the crew made a forced landing at night on the surface of a frozen lake. Two of the 97 passengers were killed by the hostile fire.

- Sept. 1, 1983: Korean Air Lines Flight 007 shot down by at least one Soviet air-to-air missile after the 747 had strayed into Soviet airspace. All 240 passengers and 29 crew were killed.

- July 3, 1988: Iran Air Flight 655 Aircraft was shot down by a surface to air missile from the American naval vessel U.S.S. Vincennes. All 16 crew and 274 passengers were killed.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- One American is now listed among the nearly 300 people who died aboard a Malaysia Airlines plane that was brought down over eastern Ukraine yesterday. President Barack Obama identifies him as Quinn Lucas Schansman.

Malaysia Airlines had said the dead included a passenger with dual U.S. and Dutch citizenship.

U.S. officials are focusing on the Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine -- and even possibly Russia itself -- as they try to find out who caused yesterday's plane crash.

Obama says evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile fired from an area controlled by the separatists. And he says this type of attack wouldn't be possible without sophisticated equipment and training -- which he says is "coming from Russia."
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama says one American was killed on the plane over Ukraine. He says the airliner was shot down by a surface-to-air missile in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists.

The president called it a global tragedy in remarks from the White House, one day after Malaysia Airline Flight 17 crashed.

He is calling for a credible international investigation

The plane was shot down near the border between Ukraine and Russia. The incident occurred one day after Obama announced broader economic sanctions against Russia for its threatening moves in Ukraine.
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UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The U.N. secretary-general says "there is clearly a need for a full and transparent international investigation" into the plane crash in Ukraine.

Ban Ki-moon said during a media event Thursday that the International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. agency, is closely monitoring the disaster involving the Malaysia Airlines passenger plane carrying 295 people.

Ban adds, "I offer my deep condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims and people of Malaysia."

Both Ukraine's government and the pro-Russia separatists fighting in the region have denied any responsibility for downing the aircraft.
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UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Britain says the U.N. Security Council will hold an emergency meeting Friday morning on Ukraine.

Britain's U.N. Mission said Thursday it requested the meeting and later tweeted that it is set for 10 a.m. Friday.

The request follows Wednesday's downing of a Ukrainian air force fighter and Thursday's downing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane carrying 295 people over eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine's U.N. Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev tweeted after Thursday's crash in a rebel-controlled area that "Ukraine will present the evidence of Russian military involvement into the Boeing crash. This crime should be fully investigated."
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HRABOVO, Ukraine (AP) --Russian news agencies have quoted witnesses as saying they saw a plane being hit by what they thought was a rocket today over Ukraine.

But both Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russia rebels are denying they fired a missile that brought down a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane with 295 people aboard.

The plane crashed in eastern Ukraine, about 25 miles from the Russian border. An Associated Press journalist counted at least 22 bodies at the wreckage site, which covers a wide area.

The wreckage is in a village that is currently under the control of pro-Russia separatists. It's seen severe fighting between separatists and government troops in recent days.

Aviation authorities in several countries, including the FAA in the United States, had issued warnings not to fly over parts of Ukraine prior to today's crash. Within hours, several airlines, including Lufthansa and KLM, released statements today saying they were avoiding parts of Ukrainian airspace.
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration scrambled Thursday to determine who was responsible for shooting down a passenger jet in Ukraine and whether Americans were killed in an incident that could worsen the already tense conflict near the Ukraine-Russia border.

Vice President Joe Biden said the incident was "not an accident" and described the plane as having been "blown out of the sky." However, Biden cautioned that the U.S. was still seeking details about the cause of the crash and reports that there were American citizens aboard the plane.

President Barack Obama, speaking during a trip to Delaware, made no mention of who might be responsible for the crash of the Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 295 people and called the incident a "terrible tragedy."

Following the crash, the Federal Aviation Administration said U.S. airlines voluntarily agreed not to operate near the Ukraine-Russia border. The agency said it was monitoring the situation to determine whether further guidance was necessary.

The incident came one day after Obama levied broad economic sanctions on Russia as punishment for its threatening moves in Ukraine. Moscow is widely believed to be supporting pro-Russian separatists fomenting instability near the border, though the Kremlin denies those assertions.

Obama discussed the new sanctions by phone Thursday with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The White House said reports of the downed plane surfaced during that call and Putin mentioned the incident to his American counterpart.

Speaking later during a trip to Delaware, Obama said "the world is watching" the deadly incident.

"It looks like it might be a terrible tragedy," he said. "Right now we're working to determine whether there were American citizens on board. That is our first priority."

White House officials said Obama still planned to go ahead with an evening of fundraising in New York. Officials said Obama called both Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak from Air Force One as he traveled to the events.

Biden spoke by phone with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and said the U.S. was sending a team to Ukraine to help with the investigation.

Poroshenko called the downing of the plane an act of terrorism.

Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister, said on his Facebook page that the plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet when it was hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher.

U.S. officials said they were still seeking to determine how the plane was brought down. Their cautious approach underscored the potential for the incident to escalate the already fraught dispute between Russia and Ukraine.

Officials did day Russia has sent a wide range of heavy weaponry into eastern Ukraine in recent months, although it is uncertain whether that includes the Buk air defense system, which is operated by a tracked vehicle. The U.S. suspects that Russian shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons have been provided to the separatists.

According to a Ukrainian state-owned import-export firm that specializes in military technology and weaponry, known as Ukroboronservice, the Ukrainian military operates the Buk-M1 system, which is designated by NATO as the SA-11 Gadfly. It is designed to shoot down military aircraft, including helicopters, as well as cruise missiles.

The Russians also are believed by U.S. officials to have provided the separatists in eastern Ukraine with other heavy weaponry such as artillery, multiple-launch rocket systems, tanks and armored personnel carriers.

The Federal Aviation Administration had previously warned U.S. pilots earlier this year not to fly over portions of the Ukraine in the Crimea region, according to notices posted on the agency's website.

The notices were posted on April 23. The U.N.'s International Civil Aviation Organization and the aviation authorities in most countries issue similar notices for areas where unrest or military conflict creates a risk of being shot down.

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GRABOVO, Ukraine (AP) -- Ukraine said a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday as it flew over the country, and both the government and the pro-Russia separatists fighting in the region denied any responsibility for downing the plane.

As plumes of black smoke rose up near a rebel-held village of Grabovo in eastern Ukraine, an Associated Press journalist counted at least 22 bodies at the crash site 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Russian border.

The plane appeared to have broken up before impact and the burning wreckage - including body parts and the belongings of passengers - was scattered over a wide area

Malaysia Airlines tweeted that it lost contact with one of its flights carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew as it was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur over Ukrainian airspace, but did not yet confirm the crash.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called the downing an act of terrorism and called for an international investigation into the crash.

The Donetsk region government said a plane crashed Thursday near a village called Grabovo, which it said is currently under the control of the separatists. The region where the flight was lost has seen severe fighting between the two sides in recent days.

Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister, said on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters (33,000 feet). He said it was hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher, which can fire missiles up to an altitude of 22,000 meters (72,000 feet).

The Malaysia Airlines plane is a Boeing 777-200ER, which was delivered to Malaysia Airlines on July 30, 1997, according to Flightglobal's Ascend Online Fleets, which sells and tracks information about aircraft. It has more than 43,000 hours of flight time and 6,950 takeoffs and landings.

Poroshenko said his country's armed forces didn't shoot at any airborne targets.

"We do not exclude that this plane was shot down, and we stress that the Armed Forces of Ukraine did not take action against any airborne targets," he said. "We are sure that those who are guilty in this tragedy will be held responsible."

Separatist leader Andrei Purgin told The Associated Press that he was certain that Ukrainian troops had shot the plane down but gave no explanation or proof for his statement.

Purgin said he did not know whether rebel forces owned Buk missile launchers, but said even if they did, there had no fighters capable of operating it.
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WASHINGTON (AP) --The Federal Aviation Administration had warned U.S. pilots earlier this year not to fly over portions of the Ukraine in the Crimea region, according to notices posted on the agency's website.

The notices were posted on April 23. The U.N.'s International Civil Aviation Organization and the aviation authorities in most countries issue similar notices for areas where unrest or military conflict creates a risk of being shot down.

The FAA had not issued any new warnings Thursday in the immediate aftermath of reports that a Malaysian airliner had been shot down over the Ukraine.
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MOSCOW (AP) -- The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Barack Obama have discussed the Malaysia Airlines plane incident over eastern Ukraine.

The Kremlin website published a statement late Thursday that says "the Russian leader informed the U.S. president of the report from air traffic controllers that the Malaysian plane had crashed on Ukrainian territory, which had arrived immediately before the phone call."

The statement gave no further details about what the leaders discussed with regard to the plane crash. The rest of the phone call was dedicated to the general situation in eastern Ukraine, and recent U.S. sanctions against Russian individuals and companies.
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KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- A Ukrainian official said a Malaysian passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday over a town in the east of the country.

Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine's Interior Minister, said on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters (33,000 feet) when it was hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher. A similar launcher was seen by Associated Press journalists near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne earlier Thursday.

Malaysia Airlines said on its Twitter feed that it "has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam. The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace. More details to follow."


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