Update: July 18, 10:29 a.m.: As the world at large takes stock of the Malaysia Airlines crash in Ukraine, which killed 298 people and provoked accusations and counter-accusations about who brought the plane down, government leaders are calling for an inquiry into what caused the disaster. The New York Times is reporting that Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, which has close economic ties with Moscow, said there were “many indications” that the Malaysian airliner “was shot down.” Both the Ukrainian government and its pro-Moscow separatist foes in eastern Ukraine, where the plane crashed, has blamed the other for bringing it down. United States and Ukrainian officials say the jetliner was brought down by a Russian-made antiaircraft missile, and recorded cell phone calls suggest that pro-Russian Ukranian separatists fired on the plane believing it was carrying spies.
Update: 4:24 p.m.: The New York Times notes that despite the turmoil in eastern Ukraine, the commercial airspace over that part of the country is a heavily trafficked route and has remained open. Aeroflot, Russia’s national carrier, announced it had immediately suspended all flights to Ukraine for at least three days. In a statement, Poroshenko said that he was calling the crash “not an incident, not a catastrophe, but a terrorist act.”
Update: 2:15 p.m.: The Times is reporting that Ukraine president Petro O. Poroshenko has called for an "immediate investigation" of the crash. There were no reported survivors among the 280 passengers and 15 crew members.
The New York Times and other sources are reporting that a Malaysia Airlines passenger airliner has crashed.
The flight, MH17, reportedly had 295 people on board when it crashed in Ukraine near the Russian border. Interfax news agency said that the Boeing plane was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The airline sent out a tweet to its followers:
Malaysia Airlines has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam. The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace. More details to follow.— Malaysia Airlines (@MAS) July 17, 2014
As FirstPost.com pointed out, the area where the plane went down was one of "intense fighting" between Russian and Ukrainian forces, and noted the possibility that the plane was shot down by the military forces. The Boeing 777 was flying at 32,000 feet over the contentious Russian/Ukrainian region at the time, and several military aircraft have been shot down in the region in the past few days.
#BREAKING: White House says Obama directed senior U.S. officials to remain in close touch with Ukrainian officials about downed plane— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) July 17, 2014
Keep an eye on TravelAgentCentral.com for updates.