Malaysian flight MH17 shot down over Ukraine

A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200, registration 9M-MRD performing flight MH-17/KL-4103 from Amsterdam (Netherlands) to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) with 283 passengers and 15 crew, was enroute at FL330 about 20nm northeast of Donetsk (Ukraine) when the transponder data became unreliable at 13:18Z (position N48.28 E38.08) and was lost at FL330 at 13:20Z. The aircraft came down near the villages of Shakhtarsk and Hrabove (Ukraine) about 20nm from the last transponder position and 20nm from the Ukrainian/Russian border, the ELT of the aircraft was recorded at position N48.1230 E38.5258.

Malaysia Airlines have confirmed an incident, the aircraft did not enter Russian Airspace so far, about two hours after the estimated entry into the airspace. At 15:40Z Malaysia Airlines tweeted: “Malaysia Airlines has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam. The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace. More details to follow.” At 16:45Z the airline tweeted: “Malaysia Airlines confirms it received notification from Ukrainian ATC that it had lost contact with flight MH17 at 1415 (GMT) at 30km from Tamak waypoint, approximately 50km from the Russia-Ukraine border. Flight MH17 operated on a Boeing 777 departed Amsterdam at 12.15pm (Amsterdam local time) and was estimated to arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 6.10 am (Malaysia local time) the next day. The flight was carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew onboard. More details to follow.” In the morning of Jul 18th Malaysian Airlines corrected the initial passenger count from 280 to 283. On Jul 19th 2014 the airline released the final passenger manifest: 193 Dutch (including 1 dual citizen Dutch/US), 43 Malaysian (including 2 infants and 15 crew), 27 Australian, 12 Indonesian (including 1 infant), 10 British (including 1 dual citizen UK/South Africa), 4 German, 4 Belgian, 3 Philippine, 1 Canadian and 1 New Zealand citizens.

Ukraine ATC reported that the aircraft was enroute normally, there had been no indication of any problem and there was no emergency call.

On Jul 20th 2014 an agreement reached between separatists and Ukrainian Recovery Services permitted the recovery of 196 of the 298 bodies so far. According to Ukrainian government Ukrainian recovery services and international observers are permitted to recover the bodies and take them to a safe place. According to Associated Press the bodies have been loaded onto trains headed to a separatist held city. Ukrainian Donetsk Emergency Ministry confirmed 196 bodies have been recovered and are going to be transferred to Donestsk.

On Jul 21st 2014 the Ukrainian government said, 272 bodies have been recovered so far. Dutch investigators have reached Torez to begin identifying the bodies. The Ukrainian government proposed that the Netherlands should lead the investigation. There are tough negotiations ongoing to permit the trains carrying the bodies to leave Eastern Ukraine, so that the bodies can be identified and returned to their families.

On Jul 21st 2014 accident investigators from Netherlands, Germany, USA and Australia have arrived in Kharkiv and are expected to proceed to the crash site later the day.

Ukrainian rescue services reported that the wreckage is spread over an area of about 15km diameter around the villages of Hrabove and Shakhtarsk.

On Jul 19th 2014 Malaysia Airlines released the passenger manifest (the cargo manifest had been released earlier) and stated: “Malaysia is deeply concerned that the crash site has not been properly secured. The integrity of the site has been compromised, and there are indications that vital evidence has not been preserved in place. Interfering with the scene of the crash risks undermining the investigation itself. Any actions that prevent us from learning the truth about what happened to MH17 cannot be tolerated. Failure to stop such interference would be a betrayal of the lives that were lost.” and concluded their statement: “This outrage cannot go unpunished. Once again, Malaysia condemns this brutal act of aggression, and calls for those responsible to be found, and to face the full force of justice without delay.”

The Ukraine have closed the airspace around Donetsk about 90 minutes after the aircraft disappeared.

The Ukrainian President said, the aircraft has been brought down as result of a terrorist act. Ukrainian military forces were not involved in the shoot down of the aircraft.

Ukrainian separatists had initially claimed they had shot down another Ukrainian Airforce AN-26, the comments were and references to them are currently being deleted across the Internet. Separatists of the self pronounced Republic of Donetsk had also shown off with ground to air missiles capable to down airliners in the last couple of days, these videos and messages are currently being deleted as well. See below the images of Igor Girkin’s (Strelkov’s) website retrieved at 15:22Z and at 23:00Z on Jul 17th 2014. Igor Girkin is commander of the Donbass People’s Milita. Igor Girkin wrote at 17:37 MSK as first sentence: “Message from the Militia: In the area Snizhne just knocked down an AN-26 lying somewhere in the mine ‘Progress'” – this sentence later disappeared and is not present anymore on the current web page, the sentence however is still verifyable from Internet caches.

Igor Girkin's Note

Officially the separatists state, that they have no involvement into the downing of MH-17. They have recovered the black boxes of the aircraft. The Ukrainian Foreign Minister reported the Ukraine have opened a criminal investigation into the terrorist act and reported in a press conference, that they have intercepted phone calls between rebels who initially celebrated the shoot down of another Ukraine Air Force aircraft, then recognized and discussed that the aircraft was civilian with a lot of casualties.

On Jul 21st 2014 the US vice president stated, that the US have compelling evidence that the Boeing was shot down by separatists utilizing missiles and missile launchers supplied from Russia, amongst the evidence satellite images showing major military supplies moved from Russia into Eastern Ukraine including missile launchers and intercepted phone calls. The intercepted phone calls earlier published by the Ukrainian government discussing the shootdown of an AN-26 and then identifying a civil aircraft are authentic. “There’s enormous amount of evidence that points to the involvement of Russia in providing these systems, training the people on them”, the vice president stated.

The Aviation Herald:

MH17 Crash

MH17 Crash

MH17 Crash

Allegedly intercepted phone calls between separatists, YouTube:

MH17 flight history, Flightradar24:

Three Dutch investigators have examined bodies from the crashed Malaysia Airlines passenger plane at a railway station in eastern Ukraine. The Dutch experts said the train may later leave the town of Torez, which is held by pro-Russian rebels.

Meanwhile, heavy fighting is reported in the main rebel-held city of Donetsk. The clashes – involving heavy weapons – are continuing near the city’s airport and the railway station, eyewitnesses say. At least three civilians were reported killed, and one multi-storey building was seen on fire. Residents are fleeing the city, report BBC correspondents on the ground.

The BBC:

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17/MAS17) was a scheduled international passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that crashed on 17 July 2014. It is believed to have been shot down with a Buk surface-to-air missile. The aircraft went down near Hrabove in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, about 40 km (25 mi) from the Ukraine–Russia border. All 283 passengers and 15 crew on board the Boeing 777-200ER airliner died. The crash occurred in the conflict zone of the ongoing Donbass insurgency, in an area controlled by the Donbass People’s Militia.

Shortly after the crash, Donbass separatists took credit for downing a Ukrainian military aircraft. They later recanted and denied involvement after learning that a civilian airliner had been downed, saying they did not have the equipment or training to hit a target at that altitude. Ukraine, however, has provided video evidence they say shows Russia provided the BUK missile launcher and crew to the separatists, and claims to have intercepted phone calls in which a separatist officer authorized the decision for the Russian crew to fire. The United States has claimed to have credible evidence that the missile was fired from a separatist position near Donetsk. While the Dutch have been primarily concerned with treatment of the bodies and access to the crash site, Malaysia’s Prime Minister said they were unable to verify the cause and demanded that the perpetrators be punished. Australian PM Tony Abbot said the aircraft was downed in a deliberate criminal act by Russian-backed separatists, while Britain has called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. In response, Russia denied involvement and suggested that Ukraine’s military might have been responsible, and claimed to have evidence that a Ukrainian BUK AA battery was operating near Donetsk at the time. China’s state-owned Xinhua news agency described the reaction by Australia and the US as “rash”, and warned Western nations against rushing to implicate Russia, while saying the top priority now is to co-operate to find out the culprits. All forces in the theater have access to BUK M1 missiles, which may make it difficult to prove which faction fired the deadly shot. The UN security council is considering a draft resolution to condemn the “shooting down” of a Malaysian passenger plane in Ukraine, demand access to the crash site and call on states in the region to co-operate with an international investigation.

With 298 deaths, the crash of MH17 is the deadliest aviation incident since the September 11 attacks. It is also the deadliest-ever air incident in Ukraine, Boeing 777 hull loss, and airliner shootdown. It is the third-deadliest incident of sabotage in aviation history, behind Air India Flight 182 and the 11 September attacks. The crash was Malaysia Airlines’ deadliest major incident, as well as its second of the year, after the 8 March disappearance of Flight 370 en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.

Both US and Ukrainian officials propose a surface-to-air missile as the most likely cause of the crash. If this is true, it was most likely fired from a mobile Russian-designed Buk missile system, known as a SA-11 “Gadfly” in the west, as these are the only surface-to-air missile systems in the area capable of reaching the altitude of commercial air traffic.


cf. Buk/Gadfly SAM system, Wikipedia:

Buk M1-2 / S-11 Gadfly