U.S. officials have confirmed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was downed by a surface-to-air missile Thursday but haven’t determined its origin, according to several news outlets.
Vice President Joe Biden: “Shot down, not an accident. Blown out of the sky.” (Via WJBK)
BBC reports the feuding pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government have both denied shooting down the passenger jet, although the separatists have also recently been accused of shooting down two Ukrainian military planes.
“This is one of the weapon systems that is known to be in use in the region. It’s called a BUK system, it is a radar-guided anti-aircraft system … capable of striking aircraft at very high altitude” (Via CBS)
While U.S. officials have determined the cause of the crash, reporters on the scene have described the grisly result. (Lifenews.ru)
“Unrecognizable. It’s just a lower torso.” (Via ABC)
Sabrina Tavernise from The New York Times says the bodies of many passengers were still intact — some even with their seatbelts still on. Videos from the scene show debris and body parts spread out over several miles.
News outlets are also citing one reporter at the scene who says locals describe the plane exploding in the air and all of its contents falling from the sky. (Via Twitter / @NoahSneider)
The crash site is currently under control of Ukrainian separatist rebels and some have reportedly said they have the plane’s black box. (Via Twitter / @dpeleschuk)
In the meantime, several airlines began diverting their flights around the area as a precaution.
And the European Union and the Ukrainian and Russian governments have promised to launch investigations. President Obama says the U.S. will offer whatever assistance is needed. (Via Los Angeles Times)
As for Malaysia Airlines, their most recent statement came hours ago when they said the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lampur went missing. (Via Facebook / Malaysia Airlines)
Ukrainian officials told Interfax news agency as many as 23 Americans were on board, but that can’t be confirmed until the flight’s manifest is checked through the airline.