MH17 was shot down: the conclusion of a senior US official on the true cause of the tragic crash of the Malaysia Airlines flight on Thursday.
The aircraft, a Boeing 777, left Amsterdam for a 12-hour long journey to Kuala Lumpur in the morning of July 17. Flight MH 17 was carrying a total of 298 passengers on board including a crew of 15, all of whom were Malaysians.
The plane was already cruising an altitude of above 33,000 feet over the Ukrainian air space when it got hit by the surface-to-air missile. The ill-fated aircraft plummeted like a ball of fire from the sky at a dizzying speed with black smoke trailing behind.
The wreckage was found near Torez in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian officials were quick to blame the pro-Russian rebels as the ones who are responsible for the crash. Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, Ukraine's state security chief, went as far as accusing a couple of Russian military intelligence officers of their involvement in the incident.
He was basing his bold accusations on the intercepted phone conversations between the two military officials. He called for the punishment of those responsible in the crime.
The victims whose identities have been confirmed include 154 Dutch nationals, 27 Australians, 12 Malaysians, 12 Indonesians, 9 UK nationals, 4 each from Germany and Belgium, 3 from the Philippines, and a Canadian.
Emergency rescue units trooped to the site where charred wreckage was found. A grim sight greeted the rescuers and the curious onlookers with all the visible debris and smoldering bits and pieces scattered all over the place which, some estimate, stretches for kilometers.
According to witnesses, they heard a loud explosion in the air and the next thing they saw were a dreadful sight to behold, bits and pieces came raining down the earth including the visible parts of the plane itself, as well as the remains of the 298 passengers.
Among those on board the ill-fated MH 17 were members of the Interntional AIDS Society who were on their way to Melbourne, Australia to attend the 20th International AIDS Conference.
More than 50 victims remain unidentified as of press time.