Officials: Malaysian plane shot down in Ukraine

Still taken from video purporting to be the Malaysia Airlines crash.

A Malaysian airliner was shot down near the Ukraine-Russia border Thursday by a surface-to-air missile, senior U.S. officials confirm.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed with 298 passengers and crew on board in a town in eastern Ukraine. Initial reports indicated an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister saying the plane had been shot down.

Russian, Ukrainian and rebel leaders are all denying involvement in any sort of missile strike.

Russian President Vladmir Putin says Ukraine bears responsibility for the crash of a Malaysian airliner.

A Kremlin statement early Friday said Putin opened a meeting with his economic advisers by calling for a moment of silence over the crash.

Then, he said, "This tragedy would not have happened if there were peace on this land, if the military actions had not been renewed in southeast Ukraine. And, certainly, the state over whose territory this occurred bears responsibility for this awful tragedy."

Malaysia Airlines posted to Twitter that it had lost contact with flight MH 17 from Amsterdam over Ukrainian airspace.

The airline has released the following statement: 

"Malaysia Airlines confirms it received notification from Ukrainian ATC that it had lost contact with flight MH17 at 1415 (GMT) at 30km from Tamak waypoint, approximately 50km from the Russia-Ukraine border.

"Flight MH17 operated on a Boeing 777 departed Amsterdam at 12.15pm (Amsterdam local time) and was estimated to arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 6.10 am (Malaysia local time) the next day.

"The flight was carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew onboard."

Anton Gerashenko, who works in the Ukrainian government, says on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters (33,000 feet) 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.

Britain says the U.N. Security Council will hold an emergency meeting Friday morning on Ukraine.

Britain's U.N. Mission said Thursday it requested the meeting and later tweeted that it is set for 10 a.m. Friday.

The request follows Wednesday's downing of a Ukrainian air force fighter and Thursday's downing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane carrying 295 people over eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine's U.N. Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev tweeted after Thursday's crash in a rebel-controlled area that "Ukraine will present the evidence of Russian military involvement into the Boeing crash. This crime should be fully investigated."

President Barack Obama has been briefed on the crash.

"It looks like it may be a terrible tragedy," Obama said in a short televised statement.

The president says the U.S. is working to determine whether any American citizens were on board. Obama says that's the first priority for the U.S.

He says the nation's thoughts and prayers are with the victims, regardless of where they are from.

Obama spoke during an event about transportation funding in Delaware. He discussed the plane incident earlier Thursday in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

NBC Reports that Obama spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the time of the crash, but it is unknown what the two men spoke about.
Passenger jets shot down

In 1978, Korean Airlines Flight 902 was forced down over a frozen lake after being fired on by Soviet aircraft.

In 1983, another Korean Airlines jetliner was shot down after straying into Soviet airspace.

In 1988, the USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 665 over the Persian Gulf.

In October 2001, U.S. officials said a Ukrainian long-range anti-aircraft missile was responsible for blowing up a Russian plane as it flew over the Black Sea. At that time, the Ukrainian military denied their missiles could hit an airliner flying at that altitude.

Thursday's crash comes four months after another Malaysia Airlines plane, Flight 370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, disappeared with 239 people on board. Wreckage from that flight still has not been found.

NBC News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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