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Friday, July 18, 2014 - 5
An Emergencies Ministry member walks amid wreckage of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo
in the Donetsk region. The Malaysian airliner flight MH-17 was brought down over eastern Ukraine, killing all 295 people aboard.
A Malaysian airliner carrying
295 people, including 27
Australians, from Amsterdam
to Kuala Lumpur has crashed in
rebel-held east Ukraine, killing
all on board.
Ukraine’s government and pro-
Russian insurgents traded blame
for the disaster, with comments
attributed to a rebel chief
suggesting his men may have
downed Malaysia Airlines flight
MH17 by mistake, believing it
was a Ukrainian army transport
There was no sign of survivors
at the crash site, where reporters
saw horrific scenes of carnage
with dozens of mutilated
corpses and body parts strewn
through the smouldering wreck
of the decimated Boeing 777
Charred debris stinking of
kerosene stretched for kilometres
across the rebel-controlled zone
in the Donetsk region. A top
rebel leader said his forces were
prepared to agree to a short
ceasefire to allow for the recovery
Shellshocked locals said the
impact felt “like an earthquake”
in their village of Grabove, near
the Russian border.
airport, from where the ill-fated
aircraft took off, a journalist saw
family members in tears, while
Dutch television broadcast
harrowing images of passports
found in the wreck, including
those of children.
Europe’s flight safety body
Eurocontrol said Ukrainian
authorities had closed the
airspace over the east of the
country, after a string of countries
advised their carriers to stay away.
Still reeling from the loss
of F light MH370, Malaysia
Airlines announced on Twitter
the loss of the Boeing 777 along
with its 280 passengers and 15
It said Ukrainian air traffic
controllers lost contact with the
plane about 2.15am NZT, about
four hours into its flight, some
50km from the Russia-Ukraine
Malaysia’s Prime Minister
Najib Razak said on Twitter
he was “shocked by reports
that an MH plane crashed”
and announced an “immediate
Australian Foreign Minister
Julie Bishop said 27 Australians
were on the Malaysia Airlines
flight downed in Ukraine.
“I can confirm 27 passengers
on that flight were Australian
nationals,” she said.
independently verify that. ”
She said Australian officials
were seeking permission to
access the crash site, which was
in rebel-held territory in eastern
She said Australia would
demand a full, independent
international inquiry into the
crash, amid reports Russian
separatists have taken the plane’s
Among the other passengers
and crew were 154 Dutch
citizens, 23 Malaysians, 11
Indonesians, six Britons, four
Germans, four Belgians, three
Filipinos, one Canadian, with
about 47 unidentified.
Europe and United States stock
markets were sent tumbling
by the crash, which escalated
tensions fuelled by broadened US
and European Union sanctions.
Shocked world leaders from
Washington to Brussels and
Berlin joined in calling for
an international inquiry to
determine the causes of a disaster
with potentially huge political
Diplomats said Britain called
for an urgent United Nations
Security Council meeting on
Ukraine following the crash.
The Kremlin said President
Vladimir Putin and US President
Barack Obama — at loggerheads
over a new wave of sanctions
over Ukraine — had discussed
what Obama called “a terrible
Washington offered Ukraine
help with the probe, as Boeing
also said it was ready to assist in
Alexander Borodai, prime
minister of the self-proclaimed
“ Donetsk People’s Republic”,
meanwhile said separatist forces
would be ready to commit to a
truce for several days to allow full
access to the site.
There were conflicting claims of
responsibility after the shocking
new development in crisis-torn
Ukraine where fighting between
separatists and the Western-
backed government has claimed
over 600 lives.
The official spokesman for
President Petro Poroshenko
said he believed pro-Russian
insurgents downed the airliner.
“This incident is not a
catastrophe. It is a terrorist act,”
Poroshenko’s spokesman posted
The Ukrainian leader said
Kiev’s armed forces “did not fire
at any targets in the sky” and
vowed “those behind this tragedy
will be brought to justice”.
Pro-Russian rebels in the self-
proclaimed Lugansk People’s
Republic claimed the airline split
in two after being shot down by a
Ukrainian aircraft — which was
then shot down in turn.
But a social media site
attributed to the top military
commander of the Donetsk
People’s Republic, Igor Strelkov,
said the insurgents shot down an
army transport at the exact site of
the Malaysia Airlines crash.
separatists targeted the Malaysia
Airlines plane in the belief it
was an An-26 Ukrainian army
“ We just downed an An-26
near Torez. It is down near the
Progress mine,” the VK page
attributed to Strelkov said.
“ Here is a video confirming
that a ‘bird fell’,” said the post,
providing a link identical to that
published by Ukrainian media
in reports about the Malaysia
The crash came with tensions
already soaring after Kiev
accused Russia of downing a
Ukrainian military plane on
a mission over the east of the
country on Wednesday, the first
direct claim of a Russian attack
on Ukrainian forces.
The pilot managed to eject and
was rescued, Ukraine’s National
Security and Defence Council
Russia’s defence ministry —
which Nato claims has massed
some 12,000 troops along
Ukraine’s porous border —
dismissed the claim as “absurd”,
news agencies reported.
The dramatic developments on
the ground came alongside the
already serious fallout from fresh
US and EU sanctions slapped on
Russia for its perceived support
of separatists in the ex-Soviet
State. — AFP
Israeli troops invade Gaza
Israel announced the start of a Gaza ground
campaign overnight after 10 days of aerial and
naval bombardments failed to stop persistent
Palestinian rocket attacks, but it signalled the
invasion would be limited in scope.
A statement from Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu’s office said he had given orders
to destroy tunnels that militants had dug to
infiltrate Israel and carry out attacks.
An Israeli military spokesman said Israel
was not out to try to topple the dominant
Hamas Islamist group. Such a goal would
likely entail a move into densely populated
Gaza City, where urban warfare could prove
costly to both sides.
Israel last mounted a large-scale invasion of
the Gaza Strip during a three-week war in
late 2008 and early 2009 that claimed 1400
Palestinian and 13 Israeli lives.
No time frame was announced for the new
operation, and the length and intensity of
Israel’s assaults could depend on the scale of
civilian deaths — casualties likely to boost
international pressure for a ceasefire.
Early today, Gaza residents and medical
officials reported heavy shelling along the
eastern border from the southern town of
Rafah to the north of the strip. But there was
no immediate sign that tanks, deployed for
days near the border, were moving in.
Explosions echoed and flashes of orange lit
the sky in the eastern Gaza Strip as Israeli
gunboats fired shells and tracer bullets.
Israeli artillery pounded the area and
helicopters fired across the border, witnesses
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri
responded with defiance to Israel’s invasion
“ We warn Netanyahu of the dreadful
consequences of such a foolish act,” Abu
Gaza health officials said 235 Palestinians,
mostly civilians, had been killed since Israel
began the air and sea offensive on July 8 in
what it called a response to mounting rocket
salvoes into its cities.
The warfare has been the worst between
Israel and Palestinians in two years.
One Israeli has been killed in the current
conflict. Many of the rockets, launched at
Israel’s south and the Tel Aviv metropolitan
area, have been shot down by the Iron Dome
anti-missile system, but the frequent fire has
made a dash to shelter a daily routine for
hundreds of thousands of Israelis.
A statement from the Israeli military
said the operation will include “infantry,
armoured corps, engineer corps, artillery and
intelligence combined with aerial and naval
It said another 18,000 reser ve soldiers
would be mobilised to join more than 30,000
already called up.
The ground operation began after
Egyptian ceasefire mediation efforts hit a
wall and warnings by Israel over the past
few days to thousands of residents in Gaza’s
north and east to flee their homes for their
Israel briefly held its fire on Tuesday after
Egypt, which is also Gaza’s neighbour,
announced a truce plan, but Hamas and other
militant groups rejected the proposal, saying
it had not addressed their demands.
Hamas wants Israel and Egypt, whose
military-backed government is at odds
with the Islamist movement, to lift border
restrictions that have deepened economic
hardship among Gaza’s 1.8 million populace.
Hamas is also suffering from a cash crunch,
unable to pay its employees in Gaza for
Fighting resumed immediately after the
end of a five-hour humanitarian truce
yesterday requested by the United Nations to
allow Palestinians to stock up on food.
Before dawn, about a dozen Palestinian
fighters tunnelled under the border, emerging
near an Israeli community. At least one was
killed when Israeli aircraft bombed the group,
the military said.
While tunnel-hunting incursions would
be far short of a full-scale invasion and
reoccupation, there is still the danger for
Israel that risky and time-consuming
missions could fall to Palestinian ambushes.
u New nightmare for Malaysia Airlines
u Ukrainian rebels, govt point finger
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