Malaysian Jet Downed in Ukraine Near Russian Border, Report Says

Obama: Incident a 'terrible tragedy;' Interfax says airliner with 295 people on board was shot down at altitude of 10km above eastern Ukraine; 23 U.S. citizens are among the dead.

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REUTERS/AP - A Malaysia Airlines passenger airliner with 295 people on board was shot down Thursday by a Buk ground-to-air missile, a Ukrainian interior ministry official, quoted by Interfax news agency said.

The official, Anton Gerashchenko, said all the 280 passengers and 15 crew had been killed. Among the casualties are 23 U.S. citizens, Ukrainian interior ministry aide Zoryan Shkyryak told Interfax.

An emergency services rescue worker said at least 100 bodies had so far been found at the scene, near the village of Grabovo, and that debris from the wreckage was scattered across an area up to about 15 km (nine miles) in diameter.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in a telephone conversation told U.S. President Barack Obama that a Malaysian airplane crashed on Ukrainian territory, the Kremlin said on Thursday.

During a press conference on Thursday,  Obama said that the United States will offer any assistance possible to determine what happened to a downed passenger jet in Ukraine and why.

Obama also said that the incident looks like a terrible tragedy, and that 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.

A Ukrainian official says a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday over eastern Ukraine.

The two leaders held a pre-planned call on the situation in Ukraine during which information became available from air traffic controllers about the crash.
Broken pieces of the wings were marked with blue and red paint - the same colours as the emblem of the Malaysian airline which lost track of a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that was carrying almost 300 people.  

According to Interfax, the airliner was shot down at altitude of 10 kilometers above eastern Ukraine.

Citing an aviation industry source, Interfax also reported that the Boeing plane was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

Reuters could not immediately confirm the Interfax report.