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Malaysian jet was shot down by missile, U.S. says

By Julie Pace & Lolita C. Baldor

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 09:01 p.m. HST, Jul 17, 2014


WASHINGTON » American intelligence authorities believe a surface-to-air missile took down a passenger jet in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, a U.S. official said, but the Obama administration was still scrambling to confirm who launched the strike and whether there were American citizens killed in the crash.

Vice President Joe Biden said the incident was "not an accident" and described the Malaysia Airlines plane as having been "blown out of the sky."

Among the unanswered questions was whether the missile was launched from the Russian or Ukrainian side of the border they share, according to the official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly by name and insisted on anonymity. But the official said U.S. intelligence assessments suggest it is more likely pro-Russian separatists or the Russians rather than Ukrainian government forces shot down the plane.

The U.S. has sophisticated technologies that can detect missile launches, including the identification of heat from a rocket engine.

The White House late Thursday said while all the facts were not yet known, "we do know that this incident occurred in the context of a crisis in Ukraine that is fueled by Russian support for the separatists, including through arms, materiel and training."

In its statement, the White House called for 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."

It is vital that all potential evidence and remains be undisturbed, the White House said, offering U.S. assistance that could include the National Transportation Safety Board and the FBI.

President Barack Obama, speaking during a trip to Delaware, made no mention of who might be responsible for the crash of the plane carrying 298 people, and called the incident a "terrible tragedy."

Following the crash, the Federal Aviation Administration said U.S. airlines voluntarily agreed not to operate near the Ukraine-Russia border. The agency said it was monitoring the situation to determine whether further guidance was necessary.

A global air safety group said an international coalition of countries should lead the investigation of the crash. Safety experts say they're concerned that because the plane crashed in area of Ukraine that is in dispute, political considerations could affect the investigation.

Kenneth Quinn of the Flight Safety Foundation said only "an independent, multinational investigation can truly get to the bottom of it without political interference."

The incident came one day after Obama levied broad economic sanctions on Russia as punishment for its threatening moves in Ukraine. Moscow is widely believed to be supporting pro-Russian separatists fomenting instability near the border, though the Kremlin denies those assertions.

Obama discussed the new sanctions by phone Thursday with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The White House said reports of the downed plane surfaced during that call and Putin mentioned the incident to his American counterpart.

Speaking later during a trip to Delaware, Obama said "the world is watching" the deadly incident.

"It looks like it might be a terrible tragedy," he said. "Right now we're working to determine whether there were American citizens on board. That is our first priority."

Secretary of State John Kerry said late Thursday that authorities still were trying to determine whether any Americans had been on the plane.

Obama went ahead later Thursday with a scheduled evening of fundraising for Democrats in New York, but called Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko as he traveled to the events. The White House said Obama and Poroshenko agreed that all evidence from the crash site must remain in Ukraine until international investigators were able to examine it.

The president also called both Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia and Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, where the flight originated. Officials said Obama and Rutte discussed the need for international investigators to have immediate access to the crash site.

The U.S. planned to send a team of experts to Ukraine to assist with the investigation.

Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister, said on his Facebook page that the plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet when it was hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher.

U.S. officials said Russia has sent a wide range of heavy weaponry into eastern Ukraine in recent months, although it is uncertain whether that includes the Buk air defense system, which is operated by a tracked vehicle. The U.S. suspects that Russian shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons have been provided to the separatists.

According to a Ukrainian state-owned import-export firm that specializes in military technology and weaponry, known as Ukroboronservice, the Ukrainian military operates the Buk-M1 system, which is designated by NATO as the SA-11 Gadfly. It is designed to shoot down military aircraft, including helicopters, as well as cruise missiles.

The Russians also are believed by U.S. officials to have provided the separatists in eastern Ukraine with other heavy weaponry such as artillery, multiple-launch rocket systems, tanks and armored personnel carriers.

The Federal Aviation Administration late Thursday prohibited U.S. flights over eastern Ukraine until further notice.

It previously had warned U.S. pilots earlier this year not to fly over portions of the Ukraine in the Crimea region, according to notices posted on the agency's website.

The notices were posted on April 23. The U.N.'s International Civil Aviation Organization and the aviation authorities in most countries issue similar notices for areas where unrest or military conflict creates a risk of being shot down.

Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Nedra Pickler, Robert Burns, Joan Lowy and Josh Lederman contributed to this report.







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mr808surfguy wrote:
Wow what a credible source you are using, we all know everything you see on someone facebook page is true...Com'n SA you can do better then that...SMH
on July 17,2014 | 06:18AM
4watitsworth wrote:
This article came from the AP, not SA.
on July 17,2014 | 07:57AM
Mei mei wrote:
exactly from the Associated press -
on July 17,2014 | 09:14AM
pcman wrote:
"U.S. intelligence assessments suggest it is more likely pro-Russian separatists or the Russians rather than Ukrainian government forces shot down the plane." This is clearly a separatist event which they claimed they did on tweeter as a shootdown of a "cargo" airplane. When they realized they made a booboo they took down the tweet. The separatists are clearly supported by the Russians who must have provided the SAM and the training. When Obama gave Putin the go ahead and do what the Russians want after the 2012 election, Putin did not hesitate to take over Crimea and now trying to take over East Ukraine. Russia's shooting down a civilian airplane is a critical test of Obama's leadership to stand by America's commitments to allies and partners.
on July 17,2014 | 09:38PM
awahana wrote:
Maybe this is what happened to the missing MH airliner also?!
on July 17,2014 | 06:34AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Worse, by the headline itself, I thought this airline was the missing plane, except how could it have been flying so far away into Ukraine? It's another Malaysian flight.
on July 17,2014 | 08:06AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
The story repeats itself. Maybe need to proofread.
on July 17,2014 | 10:58AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
I don't know why Obama looks left and right, even when he speaks without a teleprompter. Can't he look straight ahead into the camera? And of course, the 1988 downing of the Iranian commercial jet by the USA has not sit well with Iran, so it's no surprise that Iran is always suspicious of the USA. Are we the supreme leader of this world? Who knows? I hope we don't start a war.
on July 17,2014 | 11:12AM
calentura wrote:
He WAS using a teleprompter, and moments later -- not seen here -- he was telling jokes. After all, his main function is fundraising, not leading a nation. He is more puppet than human. A buffoon.
on July 17,2014 | 11:52AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
I would never use a TelePrompTer, I want to say things as I felt them. Which means one thing: Obama does not feel for us.
on July 17,2014 | 02:01PM
Richard_K wrote:
Typical non-comment. Can't say anything to add to the conversation, so criticize the president.
on July 17,2014 | 02:05PM
hapaguy wrote:
A passenger jet is shot down out of the sky by a missile killing 298 people and you guys come on the comments section to ridicule our President? What the he!! is wrong with you people....
on July 17,2014 | 03:49PM
calentura wrote:
A passenger jet is shot down and our "president" is cracking jokes…. what the hell is wrong with this guy…?
on July 17,2014 | 09:15PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
calentura, a passenger jet is shot down . Have you smiled, laughed or cracked a joke after that horrifc incident? If so,what's wrong with you and millions of others who have done so?
on July 18,2014 | 06:28AM
inverse wrote:
No, it is not the same. In the first case, the pilot turned off their transponder then flew off course. If the first plane was shot down or exploded with an on board bomb, the debris would be scattered along the prescribed route the plane was supposed to take. The lesson with the first case is pilots should NEVER be allowed to manually turn off transponders. The argument they give is at take off the transponders needs to be turned off to avoid problems and confusion with so many planes in proximity with each other. Simple fix is for the transponder to automatically turn on after the plane reaches a certain elevation after takeoff. It should bet the only way a commercial pilot can turn off a transponder in flight is if some manager at base gives them a special code that always changes to turn off the transponder if that is required.
on July 17,2014 | 10:07AM
ready2go wrote:
This sounds like a fairy tale.
on July 17,2014 | 08:25AM
MillionMonkeys wrote:
I didn't realize they have Democrats and Republicans in the Ukraine. Anything happens, and they're pointing the finger at each other.
on July 17,2014 | 08:54AM
Skyler wrote:
They're fighting on the border because pro-Russians want to take over Eastern Ukraine, or haven't you kept up with the news? The rebels have shot down several manned aircraft already; they screwd up with this one.
on July 17,2014 | 08:46PM
AhiPoke wrote:
obama should draw putin a red line.
on July 17,2014 | 09:09AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Do u like Limu, Shoyu or Spicy?
on July 17,2014 | 11:15AM
richierich wrote:
Malaysia Airlines is just as guilty as whichever group shot the plane down. They knew there rout they were taking was risky, yet they continued to use it to save money of fuel. Amazing.
on July 17,2014 | 10:13AM
808ikea wrote:
I cannot believe Malaysia Airlines was dumb enough to even fly near Ukraine airspace.
on July 17,2014 | 11:15AM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
Totally agree with you and richierich. Most other airlines were avoiding the area.
on July 17,2014 | 12:04PM
808ikea wrote:
I figure the two Malaysia Airline incidents will be covered by their insurers, but I cannot see them surviving financially. Who in their right mind would fly them?
on July 17,2014 | 12:03PM
mitt_grund wrote:
Malaysia Airlines is essentially a state-run monopoly, so there is no other competition in Malaysia. So, conclusion is most of the users are either from Malaysia or Asian nations. Interest by Americans usually diminishes in direct proportion to the number of Americans aboard. On Flt 370, there were only 3 Americans. The bulk, 154?, were Chinese nationals, so essentially, who cares?

The only jockeying you saw was the U.S./Australia trying to show its technological superiority to Malaysia/China. In the end both sides got mud on their faces. They still don't know what happened, and the wreckage wasn't where the Aussies and U.S. Navy thought it was.


on July 18,2014 | 06:39AM
ryan02 wrote:
"we're working to determine whether there were American citizens on board. That is our first priority." No disrespect to the dead, but Obama's priorities seem a little mixed up. Shouldn't the "first" priority be making sure no other innocent people get blown up (whether that means finding out who did this, or changing rules about flight paths, or whatever). But, whatever. Politicians will always appease their constituents ("How many AMERICANS?!") rather than do something practical that would actually benefit someone.
on July 17,2014 | 12:08PM
Richard_K wrote:
American families are going to call their government for help and information. That's usually the first priority. The military and state department are working in the background to determine what happened. As for flight rules, notams have been posted about potential trouble, the plane's transponders transmit a civil aviation 4-digit code, and the Russians air traffic system is fully aware of civilian flights as are the Ukrainians. Only the separatists, who Fox News claims have the Buk system, are apparently now part of the air traffic system. Draw the obvious conclusions.
on July 17,2014 | 02:11PM
richierich wrote:
I disagree. In my humble opinion, Obama's first priority should be securing our borders. The US can't take care of the poor, the tired and the weak that we have now, yet he is allowing more in and distributing them throughout the states for future political gain.
on July 17,2014 | 05:09PM
DemBones wrote:
When Russia first engaged the Ukraine over Crimera Putin was the glint in Republicans' eyes-they supported him. What will they say now?
on July 17,2014 | 12:09PM
South76 wrote:
I believe Romney pointed it out, during one of the last presidential debates, that Putin/Russia is going to be the bad apple and he was right. Remember, Democrats, Socialists, and Communists are on the same side in the political spectrum.
on July 17,2014 | 01:50PM
richierich wrote:
He sure ain't scared of Obama.
on July 17,2014 | 05:10PM
Skyler wrote:
Not every Republican supported Putin on Crimea; most people I know - D or R - did not support what he did.
on July 17,2014 | 08:48PM
Richard_K wrote:
correction: only the separatists ... are NOT part of the (air traffic) system
on July 17,2014 | 02:13PM
Skyler wrote:
Horrible... makes me want to stomp some 'rebels.' IF they like to be with Russia so much, they should just move there & leave the Ukrainians alone.
on July 17,2014 | 08:43PM
mitt_grund wrote:
It's about access to the sea lanes, a viable seaport for Russia in that area, and oil. And Putin resented the giving of that region to Ukraine by previous Russian leader. It in effect gave Ukraine the unique position of forcing Russia to negotiate with a lesser nation to get that access, and of using oil resources that Putin feels is rightfully Russia's. So, separatists are doing all this trouble-making with his blessing. Unfortunately, in their gung-ho desire to show their love for the fatherland and Putin, they shot down an airliner.

But not to worry, there were probably very few Americans and Europeans on board, only Third World riff-raff. Obama will only use the incident to make Putin and the separatists look bad, just lip service, so not to worry. Remember Syria, U.S. did nada. Look to more nada here. Hey, and I'm saying this even though I voted for the guy both times and donated to the tune of $1000. Another disappointment.

And the guy endorses "Not Your Friend" Abercrombie and his pet Chihuahua Brian Schatz. I take that now as a reason not to vote for either. Barry has made just too many bad appointments in his admin, so you can't trust his endorsements either. Ah, the doldrums of a lame duck presidency.


on July 18,2014 | 06:53AM
hikine wrote:
So what will Obama's next step be if there were Americans killed? Will he wage war on whom? Do the other nationalities that were killed less than that of American citizens?
on July 18,2014 | 01:31AM
RetiredWorking wrote:
hikine, this is just my opinion, but I'm presuming that American citizens care more for American citizens than other nationalities. Call it nationalism. This is much like Hawaii citizens who care more for other Hawaii citizens than others.
on July 18,2014 | 05:33AM
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