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Report: Americans Among Passengers on Malaysia Airlines Jet That Was Shot Down

The plane, carrying 295 souls, went down near the Russia/Ukraine border.
 
 
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A Malaysia Airlines passenger plane was shot down in Ukraine near the Russian border. An advisor to the Ukraine's Interior Minister confirmed the report at 11:40am. The plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet when it was shot down by a surface-to-air missile, Ukraine officials reported this morning.

A Russian aviation industry source told Reuters news service that the 777 did not enter Russian airspace when it was expected, but crashed in eastern Ukraine.

The Boeing 777 had 280 passengers and 15 crew members,  Interfax reported citing an an aviation industry source. It is reported that all passengers and crew have been killed. At least one American is known to have been on the flight. 

Political tensions and violence have been high in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border. The Ukranian government is alleging that separatist rebels shot down the plane, and the separatists are blaming Kiev. 

Flight Aware shows the flight had departed from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, the main airport in the Netherlands, for Kuala Lumpur International Airport outside Kuala Lumpur, the most populous city in Malaysia.

Both Ukraine and Russia have the  BUK surface-to-air missiles that are believed to have downed the airplane. U.S. officials are saying it is unlikely that Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists have the Cold War-era missile. 

Last night, a Russian plane shot down a Ukrainian jet as it was flying on military operations over east Ukraine, according to a Ukrainian military spokesperson. It was the third Ukrainian plane that had been fired upon in the past week. The plane was downed by a rocket strike, but the pilot ejected safety, according to the Ukrainian government. 

Last Monday a Russian missile allegedly shot down an Ukrainian transporter plane. Two of the eight people on board were killed, according to the Ukrainian government. 

Earlier today, the Russian government reacted strongly to new unilateral sanctions by the U.S., with a spokesman for the country's Foreign Ministry decrying them as "bullying" tactics by the Obama administration. 

"We consider the new round of American sanctions against Russia as a primitive attempt to take vengeance for the fact that events in Ukraine are not playing out to the tune of the script of Washington," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Earlier Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the sanctions are "driving into a corner" relations between the two nations as well as the interests of American companies and "the long-term national interests of the U.S. government and people." Putin said the sanctions would backfire against American companies working in Russia. 

Four months ago, a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet traveling between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing disappeared over the Indian Ocean. Flight MH370 was carrying 239 people. It has not been found. 

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Cliff Weathers is a senior editor at AlterNet, covering environmental and consumer issues. He is a former deputy editor at Consumer Reports. His work has also appeared in Salon, Car and Driver, Playboy, and Detroit Monthly among other publications. Follow him on Twitter @cliffweathers and on Facebook.

 
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