Loss of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

Loss of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

Breaking news and updates from the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine.

Pro-Russia separatists stand guard at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. 
A piece of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 lies on the ground next to a group of Ukrainian coal miners searching the crash site. 
 People search for the remains of victims.
Belongings of passengers lie in the grass. 
 A Ukrainian police officer searches in a field in Grabovka, Ukraine, near a huge piece of wreckage.
 Debris from the jet lies on the burnt ground in Ukraine.
 People walk amongst the debris at the crash site of Malaysia Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine.
People inspect a piece of wreckage believed to be from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine. This image was posted to Twitter. 

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Thanks for joining us as we covered the first hours of the tragic shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, with the loss of 298 lives.

Our live coverage of this unfolding international story will continue on CNN TV, CNN.com and CNN on all your mobile devices. 

Here is a little of what we’ve found out about what happened, to whom and why.

Signing off now from me, Rachel Clarke, on behalf of my fellow bloggers Mariano Castillo, Steve Almasy and Ed Payne.
    No passengers used U.S. passports

    None of the passengers on MH17 used U.S. passports to check in for the flight, a senior administration official just fold CNN's Elise Labott. 

    Of course there could have been dual citizens on board, and officials are continuing to make checks, we're told.
    Flowers in New York

    The Dutch ambassador to the United Nations just tweeted his thanks to New Yorkers who have placed flowers outside the country's mission in memory of the MH17 victims, many of whom were from the Netherlands. 

    U.S. ambassador questions Russia

    Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has had some very tough words at the beginning of a meeting into what happened to MH17.

    If pro-Russian separatists are responsible for shooting down the plane with a missile, it cannot be ruled out that Russia offered help to operate the system, she said. 

    She blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin for failing to stop the strife caused by pro-Russian forces in the east of Ukraine.

    "Russia can end this war. Russia must end this war," she said.

    Power said an international investigation had to begin immediately.

    "There was nothing threatening or provocative about MH17," she said.

    MH17 tragedy a reminder that government in Kiev doesn’t actually control all of #Ukraine's territory: My take cnn.it/1rwy2sH
    United Nations debates downing

    The U.N. Security Council is discussing the apparent attack that brought down MH17.

    Ambassadors from the U.S. and Russia will speak, along with representatives from Australia and the United Kingdom -- who lost citizens in the crash. It looks like Ukraine will get to speak last. 

    A minute of silence was held for the victims before the meeting.

    Alleged phone call: 'We have just shot down a plane'

    The biggest clue so far into who may have shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 might be what Ukrainian officials say are intercepted communications between pro-Russian separatists operating in eastern Ukraine.

    An excerpt between two alleged pro-Russian separatists:

    "Major": "The plane broke into pieces in the air ... we have found the first 200 (dead). It's a civilian."

    "Grek": "How are things going there?"

    M: "Well, we are 100% sure that it was a civilian plane."

    Read more of the conversation here.

    Ukraine accuses Russia of cover-up

    This just in from CNN's Jim Sciutto: A senior Ukrainian official accuses Russia of carrying out a cover-up of its role in the shoot-down. He cites video showing the Buk missile system being moved to Russia overnight. He also says Ukrainian authorities are still blocked from the crash site which Kiev believes is being scrubbed of evidence including the black boxes which they also believe have been taken to Russia.
    #MH17 passengers: 189 Dutch; 29 Malaysia; 27 Australia; 12 Indonesia; 9 UK, 4 Germany; 4 Belgium; 3 Philippines, 1 Canada; 1 N. Zealand

    Where are the black boxes?

    Ukraine claims the aircraft's black boxes have been sent to Russia along with the missile launcher used to target MH17, a news report says. 

    Ukraine's Interfax news agency quotes Interior Ministry adviser Anton Geraschenko as saying that Ukrainian intelligence sources say the Buk launcher and data recorders were handed over to Russian agents across the border at a checkpoint near Luhansk overnight.

    The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder -- together known as the flight's black boxes -- would be important to the investigation of exactly what happened to the plane. 
    Mourning in Melbourne

    Aram Barra of Mexico holds a candle at the site of the 20th International AIDS conference in Melbourne after news that many conference participants died in the MH17 disaster

    A renowned AIDS researcher and other health experts appear to be among the victims of the MH17 disaster.

    It's believed that Dutch scientist Joep Lange was among many people heading to Melbourne via Kuala Lumpur for the 20th International AIDS conference. 

    "He was a real hardcore scientist, but on the other hand, he really had the heart of an activist. He was quite bold and a little bit of a troublemaker," said Albert Wu, professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Wu had helped Lange plan the 1991 AIDS conference.

    "(Lange) was one of the first people to advocate spreading HIV medications to Africa," says Wu. At the time, the medication wasn't being delivered because of refrigeration problems. 

    "He said, 'If Coca-Cola can deliver cold beverages to Africa, why can't we deliver HIV medication?' And he helped make it happen," recalls Wu.

    Addressing questions as to why MH17 was flying over eastern Ukraine on Thursday, Malaysia Airlines Senior Vice President Huib Gorder told reporters that other international airlines also were flying over through that area, the area had been declared safe by the International Civil Aviation Organization, and that the area was not subject to restrictions. The crash was a tragic incident and "could have happened to any of us," Gorder said Friday at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam on Friday.

    The Malaysia Airlines jet that crashed in Ukraine on Thursday had a "clean maintenance record," and its last maintenance check was on July 11, Malaysia Airlines Senior Vice President Huib Gorder told reporters at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam on Friday. The plane was manufactured in 1997, and it had 17 years of service, he said.

    Flower shop belonging to one of the victims who was on board #MH17 . People are laying flowers outside. http://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bs0wfI2IIAEjIkA.jpg

    U.S. intelligence says missile likely fired by pro-Russian separatists

    It's most likely that the missile that brought down MH17 was fired inside Ukraine, by pro-Russian separatists, a preliminary classified analysis by U.S. intelligence says.

    CNN's Barbara Starr has learned that the analysis, although preliminary, concludes the missile was from a Russian made BuK system, also known by NATO as an SA-11. 

    Starr heard the details of the analysis from a U.S. defense official who has direct access to the latest information but who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the information. 

    “We cannot say with complete certainty but we do not think the missile came from the Russian side of the border,” the official said. “All the indications are it was fired from inside eastern Ukraine.”  

    We want to put together a solid picture

    The initial assessment also suggests separatists thought they were shooting at a Ukrainian military transport plane.

    The U.S. military and intelligence community expects by the end of this weekend to have a more definitive assessment of what happened. “We want to put together a solid picture,” on each element of the event, the official said. That assessment is expected to remain classified for now, but will be shared among NATO nations. It may eventually be shared publicly to show what the U.S. believes happened.

    U.S. military intelligence analysts concluded it is only the SA-11 or another system known as the SA-20 that has the warhead, range and ability to shoot down the airliner. The Ukrainians are not believed to have an SA-20 system and there is no intelligence suggesting Russia ever transferred one across the border.  However U.S. intelligence has concluded Russian separatists have a BuK system. The official says it’s not clear if they captured it from Ukraine OR it was transferred to them by Russia. 

    General Philip Breedlove, the top military official in NATO, who also serves as head of the U.S. European Command, is leading much of the U.S. military’s technical intelligence effort looking at all satellite, radar and other intelligence data from the area. He is coordinating with other NATO nations and east European nations in the region who are scouring their radars and intelligence assets to see if there is specific data showing the event. For now the U.S. has some data that shows a missile launch system was turned on and operating in the area at the time of the shootdown, and separate data that also shows a heat signature of a major event, believed to be the plane being shot down.
    From Bernama, Malaysia's state news agency: A 116-person investigation team will leave for Kiev to conduct an investigation into the crash.
    Loss of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 fb.me/1mlXgVnwd
    Australian PM:  28 Australians among MH17 victims

    The final count of Australian victims on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 is 28, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said at a news conference in Canberra.

    Abbott also said that he is pushing a United Nations effort to ensure there is a full and thorough investigation into the disaster.

    The Russian ambassador to Australia was called in to explain Moscow's position and potential involvement, Abbott said, and that the Russian's blamed Ukraine for the incident.

    "This is not an accident, it's a crime and criminals should not be allowed to get away with what they have done," Abbott said. 

    "Australia takes a very dim view indeed of countries that are facilitating the killing of Australian citizens," the PM said speaking about Russia and Australia "wants the fullest possible investigation."

    The Ukrainian government released audio of pro-Russian separatists discussing MH17. CNN can not verify its authenticity.

    Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott orders flags at half-staff for victims for MH17

    I have instructed that the Australian National Flag be flown at half-mast tomorrow on all Australian Government establishments, here and overseas, as a mark of respect to the Australians who have lost their lives in the tragic grounding of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.

    The Governor-General and I will attend a church service at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney on Sunday as we stand together as a nation at this difficult time.

    A National Commemorative Service will be held at a later time when the families of those who have lost their lives have had time to comprehend this horrific event.

    At this time, there will be a National Day of Mourning and flags will be flown at half-mast once more.
    Death toll update

    Malaysia Airlines says three infants were on board Flight 17 making the death toll 298 people.

    Authorities are still trying to confirm the nationalities of 41 passengers. 

    Malaysia Airlines statement said:
    154 passengers were Dutch
    43 people on the flight were Malaysian (including 15 crew)
    27 aboard were Australian
    12 were Indonesian
    9 were British
    4 were German
    4 were Belgian
    3 were Filipino
    1 was Canadian

    Officials earlier had said there were 45 Malaysians on board, then revised the figure.
    U.N. meeting Friday

    The U.N. Security Council will hold a meeting on the crash at 10 a.m. Friday. The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman of the United States, will begin the open meeting with a briefing before representatives of nations that want to address the body make remarks.
    The timeline before MH17 crashed

    CNN's Rene Marsh reports on the timeline of events that took place before Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed.

    The chairman of the Secret Service of #Ukraine says terrorists visited and surveyed the crash site of #MH17 : cnn.it/1qiHJhd
    Ukraine says rebels hampering investigation -- report

    "The search work is difficult because we are talking about a big radius ... but also because armed terrorists who are on the spot are hampering things," Serhiy Bochkovsky told journalists. He gave no details according to Reuters.
    All U.S. airlines now avoiding Ukraine-Russian border

    The FAA has been in touch with all U.S. carriers after the crash of MH17. It says all voluntarily agreed not to fly planes in the airspace near the border between Russia and Ukraine. 
    Hillary Clinton: Europe might need to toughen sanctions

    The former U.S. Secretary of State was taping an hour-long interview with Charlie Rose on Wednesday and spoke on how Europe should react if pro-Russian separatists are behind the incident.

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