Malaysia Airlines MH17 Shot Down Killing All 298 People Aboard

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Grabovo, Ukraine - July 17, 2014

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on Thursday by what appears to be a Russian made surface-to-air missile. All 298 people aboard the flight - including one American - were killed in what the Ukrainian government has called an "act of terrorism." The Malaysia Airlines plane crash happened at around 4:21 p.m. near the town of Gravobo.

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Malaysia Airlines MH17Here's what we know so far about the MH17 crash:

  • Flight 17 departed from Amsterdam and was bound for Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia Airlines informed the media that the plane had 283 passengers and 15 crew members aboard.
  • The victims that have so far been identified are from the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, Indonesia, England, Germany, Belgium, the Philippines, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.
  • The U.S. victim has been identified as Quinn Lucas Schansman, who held dual citizenship.
  • A number of passengers were en route to the International AIDS conference, which begins Sunday in Melbourne, Australia. Reports have indicated that some of the world's brightest minds in the field of AIDS research perished in the MH17 crash.
  • The Boeing 777-200 aircraft was at a cruising altitude of 33,000 feet when it was shot down. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 runs daily and follows the same route over Ukrainian airspace despite an ongoing conflict.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says no U.S. flights have been flying over eastern Ukraine. Qantas Airlines stopped flying over the airspace where the Malaysia Airlines plane went down "some time ago," according to a spokesman for the airline. Likewise, Singapore Airlines is no longer using Ukrainian airspace.
  • The part of eastern Ukraine where the plane went down has been a hotbed of fighting between Ukraine's central government and pro-Russian separatists.
  • The missile originated in an area known to be controlled by the pro-Russian separatists, who have received Ron Goldman MH17a"steady flow" of weapons and training from Russia.
  • Pro-Russian separatists have found the plane's black boxes. Their statements indicate that they will hand over the black boxes to Russia, which could call into question the integrity of the subsequent plane crash investigation.

Veteran aviation attorney, Ronald Goldman , is disturbed by the reports that the pro-Russian separatists are preventing inspectors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe access to the wreckage, stating that international independent experts need to get to the wreckage, undisturbed, immediately. "Without expert, unbiased, examination, all the knowable details necessary to complete the investigation will be lost. It is urgent that access be allowed as soon as possible."

Watch the YouTube clip of Ukrainian intelligence who captured this recording of pro-Russian separatists admitting to shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. The recording has not yet been authenticated by U.S. officials.

What's next in the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 investigation?

  • The U.S. has offered to have the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) assist in the investigation.
  • "It is critical that there be a full, credible, and unimpeded international investigation as quickly as possible. We urge all concerned - Russia, the pro-Russian separatists, and Ukraine - to support an immediate cease-fire in order to ensure safe and unfettered access to the crash site for international investigators and in order to facilitate the recovery of remains." - White House press secretary Josh Earnest.