By Harriet Alexander, and Roland Oliphant
4:34PM BST 17 Jul 2014
A Malaysia Airlines passenger plane has reportedly crashed in Ukraine, on the border with Russia. All the latest details here:
• Interfax reports that a Malaysian plane has crashed in Ukraine
• The plane was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur
• 295 people were onboard
• Reports that the plane could have been shot down
16.15 Interfax news agency are claiming that a Malaysian passenger plane has crashed in Ukraine, near the Russian border.
"A Boeing Malaysian Airlines that was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur began to descend about 50km before entering Russian airspace, and was subsequently found burning on the ground in Ukraine," an aviation source told Interfax.
Interfax said that 295 people were on board at the time.
16.20 The plane is thought to have crashed near Shaktersk.
16.27 Unconfirmed reports on Twitter showed YouTube footage of a large pall of smoke in fields near Shaktersk.
The footage could not be verified.
16.28 Initial reports suggested that the flight could have been Malaysia Airlines MH17, which left Amsterdam at 12.14.
It was due to arrive in Kuala Lumpur at 06.09.
16.34 Interfax are saying that the plane was shot down.
16.36 Our Washington correspondent, Raf Sanchez, has the following observation:
It’s still not clear what happened to today’s Malaysia Airlines flight but last night, as the US announced new sanctions on Russia, American officials suggested Russian weapons were behind the downing of a Ukrainian transport aircraft on Monday. Here’s what they had to say:
"On July 14th, Ukrainians lost an An-26 transport jet, which was shot down from an altitude of 21,000 feet, with eight crew on board. And only very sophisticated weapons systems would be able to reach this height."
16.38 More footage is emerging of the scene, minute by minute.
16.42 The Ukrainian interior ministry adviser, quoted by Interfax, says there are no survivors.
16.43 Nick Collins, The Telegraph’s transport editor, points out the following:
There are 19 routes from UK airports to Kuala Lumpur via Schipol (Although many Brits would be likely to use KLM rather than Malaysian).
16.44 More detailed route map, showing precisely where the plane dropped off the radar.
16.45 Malaysian Airlines have confirmed that they have lost contact with the plane.
16.47 Reaction to the plane crash is beginning to come in now.
This is from Carl Bildt, the Swedish foreign minister:
Absolutely horrible with Malaysia airlines probably shot down over separatist area of Eastern Ukraine. Follows downing of Ukraine aircraft.
16.50 Reports suggest that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile called a BUK.
Colin Freeman explains:
The BUK is a self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air missile systems in the Soviet era and designed to engage cruise missiles, smart bombs, aircraf and and unmanned aerial vehicles. Modern versions can reach up to 80,000 feet.
16.52 Russia Today has the following report:
The head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Anton Geraschenko said the plane carrying 285 passengers and 15 crew members fell.
16.53 Interestingly, Russia Today says that the Ukrainian rebels - backed by Russia - have denied any involvement in the plane crash.
The Donetsk People’s Republic, where fighting continues between Kiev and opposition, has rejected any involvement in the incident, as there are reports that the plane was shot down.
It said its self-defense forces just don’t have such military equipment.
Residents have reported about finding debris from a plane, which they say could belong to the Malaysian Boeing. They also said no bodies have been seen, RIA Novosti reports.
16.54 Witnesses from the town of Torez in the Donetsk Region told RIA Novosti that plane wreckage and dead bodies have been located in the vicinity. The crash took place near the Hrabovo village, outside Torez.
16.56 REUTERS - UKRAINE PRIME MINISTER ORDERS INVESTIGATION INTO MALAYSIAN “AIRPLANE CATASTROPHE”, SAYS PLANE WAS EN ROUTE FROM AMSTERDAM.
16.57 More detail on the circumstances of the crash - although it must be stressed that this is only preliminary information.
Interfax-Ukraine quoted another Ukrainian official as saying the plane disappeared from radar when it was flying at 10,000 metres (33,000 feet), a typical cruising altitude for airliners.
It came down at Torez, near Shakhtersk, some 40 km (25 miles) from the Russia border. The area has been the scene of fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels.
17.01 Channel 4 News
Ukrainian int. ministry official accuses “separatists” of shooting down @MAS flight #MH17 with missile. http://t.co/V6L3yXpVXE #c4news
17.03 It’s thought that the plane was shot down by a BUK surface-to-air missile.
This is what they look like.
17.04 And here’s another image of the BUK missile.
17.06 Raf Sanchez, our Washington correspondent, sends the following update from the US.
Obama is heading to Delaware and to New York today to talk about the American economy but will also be dealing with is looking like a full-blown international crisis.
He ignored questions from reporters about the Malaysian plane as he walked to his helicopter on the South Lawn of the White House this morning.
Here’s what he said last night about Russian activities in Ukraine:
Along with our allies, with whom I’ve been coordinating closely the last several days and weeks, I’ve repeatedly made it clear that Russia must halt the flow of weapons and fighters across the border into Ukraine; that Russia must urge separatists to release their hostages and support a cease-fire; that Russia needs to pursue internationally-mediated talks and agree to meaningful monitors on the border.
17.08 More from our transport editor, Nick Collins, who is looking at the Malaysia Airlines flight plan.
MH17 seems to have been a codeshare between KLM and Malaysian (HT @excochise )
17.10 REUTERS CORRESPONDENT ON THE SCENE IN EASTERN UKRAINE SEES BURNING WRECKAGE OF AIR PLANE, BODIES ON GROUND
17.11 The Foreign Office is looking into whether any Britons were on board.
A Foreign Office spokesman said:
We are aware of reports and are urgently investigating the situation.
17.13 Very striking images of possible wreckage are being circulated on Twitter.
We cannot confirm the authenticity of these, however.
17.15 Boeing has tweeted its condolences.
Our thoughts and prayers are with those on board MH17, as well as their families and loved ones. We stand ready to provide assistance.
17.16 More from Raf Sanchez in the US:
Obama and Putin spoke this morning by phone about the fresh US sanctions on Russia, the White House has confirmed. It’s not clear if the plane had already gone down at that point. The President has been briefed on what the US knows and ordered his team to stay in touch with the Ukrainian government.
17.18 Our political correspondent, Georgia Graham, is monitoring the British reaction.
If Russia/Russian missiles have shot down passenger plane as being suggested Europe enters a new unchartered era. Parl recess on hold.
17.20 Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak, has just spoken.
I’m shocked by reports that a Malaysia Airlines plane has crashed.
We are launching an investigation.”