UPDATE: Passengers on downed plane included 'substantial number' - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Passengers on downed plane included 'substantial number' of AIDS researchers, activists

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  • Obama, Putin speak about downed plane reports

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    WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is asking his advisers to keep him updated on reports of a plane shot down over Ukraine. But the White House says it can't confirm the reports. White House press secretary Josh Earnest says Russian President Vladimir Putin mentioned initial reports of a downed passenger jet near the border with Russia during a phone call with Obama Thursday morning. Earnest says the incident came up near the end of a call requested by Moscow to discuss sanctions the U...More >>
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UPDATE (WKOW) -- There’s still no word as to who is responsible for shooting down a Malaysian Airlines flight, filling all 298 people on board. A substantial number of the passengers were AIDS researchers and activists headed to a conference in Australia, including World Health Organization spokesperson Glenn Thomas. A majority of the passengers were from the Netherlands, with no confirmed Americans on board.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials say the jet was shot down by a missile in the volatile region in eastern Ukraine and is calling for a “full, credible, and unimpeded international investigation.’ Tensions between Ukraine, pro-Russian rebels and the Kremlin have been escalating, but all sides deny involvement.

Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, blames pro-Russian militants and Ukrainian officials say two intercepted phone calls prove the rebels are responsible. Meanwhile, Russian president Vladimir Putin says Ukraine bears responsibility. Various reports Friday morning had Putin telling warring sides in Ukraine to lay down arms and engage in talks, according to the Associated Press.

*****

HRABOVO, Ukraine (AP) -- Russian news agencies have quoted witnesses as saying they saw a plane being hit by what they thought was a rocket today over Ukraine.
   But both Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russia rebels are denying they fired a missile that brought down a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane with 295 people aboard.
   The plane crashed in eastern Ukraine, about 25 miles from the Russian border. An Associated Press journalist counted at least 22 bodies at the wreckage site, which covers a wide area.
   The wreckage is in a village that is currently under the control of pro-Russia separatists. It's seen severe fighting between separatists and government troops in recent days.
   Aviation authorities in several countries, including the FAA in the United States, had issued warnings not to fly over parts of Ukraine prior to today's crash. Within hours, several airlines, including Lufthansa and KLM, released statements today saying they were avoiding parts of Ukrainian airspace.

*****

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Ukraine's president says his country's armed forces did not shoot at any airborne targets, in response to news a Malaysian Airlines plane went down over Ukraine.

President Petro Poroshenko said Thursday "we do not exclude that this plane was shot down, and we stress that the Armed Forces of Ukraine did not take action against any airborne targets."

Meanwhile, pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine says they did not shoot down the plane and blame the Ukrainian military.

A Ukrainian official announced on social media Thursday morning a passenger plane carrying 295 people had been shot down over a town in eastern Ukraine, and Malaysian Airlines tweeted it lost contact with one of its flights over Ukrainian airspace. Malaysia Airlines said on the flight originated in Amsterdam.

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

The Donetsk region government said Thursday's plane crashed near a village called Grabovo, which it said is currently under the control of armed pro-Russian separatists. That region has seen severe fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia separatist rebels in recent days.

Wednesday evening, a Ukrainian fighter jet was shot down by an air-to-air missile from a Russian plane forcing the pilot to bail out, Ukrainian authorities said Thursday.

Pro-Russia rebels claimed responsibility for strikes Wednesday on two Ukrainian jets. But again, the Associated Press reports the rebels say they did not shoot down the commercial airliner.

Moscow has denied Western charges that the country is supporting the separatists or sowing unrest in neighboring Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Barack Obama discussed the Malaysia Airlines plane incident. The Kremlin published a statement Thursday saying "the Russian leader informed the U.S. president of the report from air traffic controllers that the Malaysian plane had crashed on Ukrainian territory, which had arrived immediately before the phone call."

********

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- A Malaysian Airlines plane has apparently been shot down over eastern Ukraine. 

A Ukrainian official says a passenger plane with 295 people aboard was shot down over a town in the country's east. And Malaysian Airlines tweeted that it lost contact with one of its flights over Ukrainian airspace.

An adviser to Ukraine's interior minister said on his Facebook page that the plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet. He said it was hit by a missile fired by a type of launcher that can fire missiles as high as 72,000 feet.


   The government in the Donetsk region of Ukraine says the plane crashed near a village called Grabovo, which it said is currently under the control of armed pro-Russian separatists.
   The region has seen severe fighting between Ukrainian forces and the separatists in recent days.

   Yesterday evening, Ukrainian officials say, a Ukrainian fighter jet was shot down by an air-to-air missile from a Russian plane. It adds to what Ukraine says is mounting evidence that Moscow is directly supporting the separatist insurgents in eastern Ukraine.

*****


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Malaysia Airlines confirms it has lost contact with a plane over Ukrainian airspace.
  
MH17 was heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.
  
Ukrainian government adviser Anton Gerashenko said on Facebook that a plane carrying 295 people was shot down over a town in the east of the country.
********
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- An adviser to Ukraine's Interior Minister, Anton Gerashenko says the plane was flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters when it was hit Thursday by a missile fired from a Buk launcher.
  
A similar launcher was seen by Associated Press journalists near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne earlier Thursday.

********

 KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Adviser to Ukraine's Interior Minister says passenger plane carrying 295 shot down.

CNN is reporting a Malaysia Airlines plane crashed in Ukraine.


We will follow this story here and on WKOW.


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