In heartbreaking news this morning reports that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur has been shot down by military forces on the Russian – Ukrainian boarder.
Malaysia Airlines has confirmed that all 298 people on board have been killed, including at least 27 Australians, 154 Dutch, 45 Malaysians, 12 Indonesian as well as a number of German, British and other nationalities.
The aircraft was at cruising altitude when authorities lost contact with it 30Km from Tamak waypoint, 50KM from the Russian boarder. Leaked telephone intercepts by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) between Russian military forces and pro-seperative rebels paint a horrifying picture of what may have occurred.
One call was apparently made by Igor Bezler, who the SBU says is a Russian military intelligence officer and leading commander of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.
Igor Bezler: “We have just shot down a plane. Group Minera. It fell down beyond Yenakievo (Donetsk Oblast).”
Vasili Geranin, a colonel in the main intelligence department Russian Federation armed forces then asks: “Pilots. Where are the pilots?”
Bezler replies: “Gone to search for and photograph the plane. Its smoking.”
A second call was between militants nicknamed “Major” and “Greek” about 40 minutes later. “It’s 100 per cent a passenger (civilian) aircraft,” Major is recorded as admitting that he had seen no weapons on site. “Absolutely nothing. Civilian items, medicinal stuff, towels, toilet paper.”
Many questions remain unanswered at this time.
Why was the airline flying over Ukranian Airspace when most other airlines had avoided that flight path in recent months?
Why was there no radio contact between the military forces and the pilots of MH17 before the tragedy?
Who was responsible for shooting down the aircraft?
One thing is for sure that in the wake of the MH370 disaster and now this, Malaysia Airlines must surely not be allowed to fly until they can demonstrate that their safety procedures have been rectified. To loose two airliners in the space of four months, both in seemingly avoidable situations, they must be held to account.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims of this terrible disaster.
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