All 298 people on board a Malaysia Airlines plane have died after the airliner crashed in eastern Ukraine, close to the border with Russia.
Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was travelling over the conflict-hit region when it disappeared from radar. A total of 283 passengers, including some 80 children, and 15 crew members were on board.
The crashed plane was a Boeing 777-200ER, the same model as Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared while travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March.
The aircraft, manufactured in 1997, had a clean maintenance record and its last check was on 11 July, Malaysia Airlines said.
Malaysia’s prime minister said there was no distress call before the plane went down.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 – Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200ER
Left Amsterdam: 10:15 GMT
Lost contact: 14:15 GMT at 10,000m (33,000ft)
What happened?According to Malaysia Airlines, the plane departed Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport at 10:15 GMT (12:15 local time) on 17 July and was due to arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 22:10 GMT (06:10 local time).
The airline lost contact four hours later at 14:15 GMT – 50km from the Russia-Ukraine border.
Footage later emerged of the crash site, and witnesses spoke of dozens of bodies on the ground.
What caused the crash?The two sides in Ukraine’s civil conflict have accused each other of shooting down the jet with a missile.
US intelligence authorities said a surface-to-air missile brought down the plane, fired from rebel-held territory.
Ukrainian government adviser Anton Herashchenko claimed the plane was hit by a missile fired by a Buk launcher – a Russian-made, medium-range surface-to-air missile system.
Pictures of the Buk system in rebel-territory have appeared in social media.
Ukrainian authorities later released a recording they claimed was a conversation between pro-Russian militants admitting to shooting down the plane.
However, separatist leader Alexander Borodai accused the Ukrainian government of attacking the airliner itself.
“Apparently, it’s a passenger airliner indeed, truly shot down by the Ukrainian air force,” he told Russia’s state-run Rossiya 24 TV broadcaster.
Experts says flight crash investigators should be able to determine what caused the crash from traces left on the debris.
Buk surface-to-air missile system
Who was on board?
Flight MH17 was carrying 193 Dutch nationals (including one dual Netherlands/US citizen), 43 Malaysians (including 15 crew), 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians and 10 Britons (including one dual UK/South Africa citizen).
There were also four Germans, four Belgians, three Filipinos, one Canadian and one New Zealander on board.
Malaysia Airlines has released a full passenger manifest.
At least six of those killed were delegates on their way to an international conference on Aids in Melbourne, Australia.
Professor Joep Lange – a prominent scientist and a former president of the International Aids Society (IAS), was among those who died.
His colleagues have described him as “a great clinical scientist” and “a wonderful person and a great professional”.
Other stories of passengers and crew emerging include a Malaysia-Dutch family of five, a Dutch couple on their way to Bali, an Australian pathologist and his wife returning from a European holiday, as well as a Malaysian flight steward whose wife – who also works for Malaysia Airlines – had narrowly escaped death when she pulled out of a shift working on missing flight MH370.
Was it safe to fly over Ukraine?Continue reading the main story
Malaysia Airlines’ senior vice-president Europe, Huib Gorter, said the flight route had been declared safe by the authorities, was being used by many other airlines and was not subject to any restrictions.
Although the area where the jet crashed had a no-fly zone in place up to 9,754m (32,000ft), the airliner was flying at 10,058m (33,000ft) – above the limit.
The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority says airlines’ decisions on whether to fly over conflict zones will be based on a range of factors – advice from the Foreign Office, warnings in the area, weather, navigation aids, strikes and which airports are out of action.
In the 48 hours running up to the MH17 crash, many airlines had chosen to keep flying in the area, data from flight tracker Planefinder shows.
According to Flight radar24, which also monitors live flight paths, the airlines that most frequently flew over Donetsk in the last week were: Aeroflot (86 flights), Singapore Airlines (75), Ukraine International Airlines (62), Lufthansa (56), and Malaysia Airlines (48).
At the time of the MH17 crash on 17 July, a number of other flights were in the area.
Selected flights over eastern Ukraine on the afternoon of 17 July
What about the plane’s black boxes?Continue reading the main story
The black box flight recorders – actually coloured a deep orange to aid discovery – store key technical information about the flight as well as conversations undertaken in the cockpit.
Separatist leaders have denied earlier reports that the plane’s flight recorders – the so-called black boxes – had been found.
Who will investigate?
The Ukrainian government has initiated an investigation and invited Malaysia to participate, Malaysia’s Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said.
Sixty-two officials from Malaysia, including disaster assistance and rescue teams, medical staff, air force representatives and civil aviation department staff, have flown to Kiev.
Mr Liow has expressed concern that the site is not properly sealed and could be tampered with.
Malaysian authorities have also called for an additional independent international investigation to be conducted.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has sent a team of international monitors to the crash site. However, they have had their movements restricted by militiamen.
The monitors’ mission is to observe the site pending the arrival of international experts being sent to investigate the cause of the crash.