Another tragedy has befallen a Malaysia Airlines flight only months after the disappearance of MH370 over the Indian Ocean on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. This time, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 which was flying to Malaysia from Amsterdam on July 17, 2014 was shot down in mid-air over Ukrainian airspace. The first photos from the crash site confirm the devastation of the aircraft and the deaths of the 295 passengers onboard.
The initial photos show parts of the fuselage showing the distinctive Malaysia Airlines markings with the Malaysian flag and the blue and red stripes that comprise the airline fleet's livery. The broken pieces are large enough to be identified as parts of the fallen aircraft.
The crash site is located close to Grabovo in the Donetsk region of Ukraine close to the Russian border and close to the place where the plane lost contact with Ukrainian Air Traffic Control. The area is reported to be rebel-controlled.
Emergency workers could already be seen putting out flames in parts of the wreckage while debris from the plane lie scattered on the ground. While the plane lies in pieces, many parts from the exterior and interior of the plane remain recognizable including human remains.
Malaysia Airlines has confirmed that 280 passengers were onboard the aircraft along with 15 crew members for a total of 295 people. A BUK surface-to-air missile is suspected to have been used to shoot the plane down. The Ukrainian Government has already denied responsibility for the incident and has launched an investigation. Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly briefed U.S. President Barack Obama about the incident via a phone conversation.
Other photos from the site show armed men in the area who are believed to be pro-Russia separatist rebels. Russia and Ukraine have been embroiled in a battle in recent months brought about by the desire of some separatist groups to become part of Russia once again just as they were part of the Soviet Union. This sentiment has been met with resistance by Ukraine and the matter has since escalated into numerous armed conflicts in the region.
Despite claims that rebels do not have the capability to shoot an aircraft flying at cruising altitude, various unconfirmed reports have surfaced that the rebels have gained access and control over BUK Surface to air missiles which have the capability of such an attack.