Malaysia Airlines Flight 17
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Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17/MAS17) was a scheduled international passenger flight from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia that was shot down by a Buk surface-to-air missile on July 17th, 2014, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew members on board in the deadliest airliner shootdown in aviation history. The plane subsequently broke up in mid-air and crashed near Hrabove in the Donetsk Oblast province of Ukraine, approximately 40 km (25 mi) from the Ukraine-Russia border. This was the 5th hull loss of a Boeing 777 and Malaysia Airlines' second hull loss in 2014 after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 just four months earlier.
Flight 17 was flown using a Boeing 777-2H6ER with the aircraft registration, 9M-MRD. It is the 84th Boeing 777 built and was first flown on July 17th, 1997. 9M-MRD was delivered to Malaysia Airlines as a brand new aircraft on July 29th, 1997. At the time of the incident, the Boeing 777 overall had suffered a total of four hull losses. Two of the losses resulted in a total of 242 fatalities.
The Boeing 777-2H6ER, at the time of the incident, was operated with an all Malaysian crew of 15. The 283 passengers on board were comprised of 193 Dutch, 43 Malaysians, 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians, 10 British, 4 Belgians, 4 Germans, 3 Filipinos, a Canadian, and a New Zealander. The crash occurred in the conflict zone between Russia and Ukraine, a day after the United States announced a new round of economic sanctions against Russia for its role in the 2014 Ukrainian Crisis. As a result of the crisis, many airlines began to avoid eastern Ukrainian airspace or Ukraine entirely.
At 5:50pm Moscow time, shortly before the news of the MH17 crash broke, Igor Girkin, Russian commander of the separatists in Ukraine, posted an update claiming the insurgents had shot down an aircraft to the Russian social media site VKontakte. In the post, which has been since deleted, Girkin reportedly confirmed shooting down an Antonov An-26, a Russian military transport aircraft, which matched the description and location of the MH17 crash:
"In the vicinity of Torez, we just downed a plane, an AN-26. It is lying somewhere in the Progress Mine. We have issued warnings not to fly in our airspace. We have video confirming. The bird fell on a waste heap. Residential areas were not hit. Civilians were not injured."
Later that same day, Ukrainian military officials declared that the aircraft was shot down by a Russian-made Buk surface-to-air missile at an altitude of 10,000 m (33,000 ft) and the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called it an "act of terrorism." The statement was partially backed by American intelligence officials, though they have yet to confirm the origin of the missile launch. In response, pro-Russian separatists in the region accused the Ukrainian government of shooting down the plane, while Russian military officials denied the involvement of any Russian anti-aircraft units in the crash and stated that a Ukrainian missile system radar was operational near the crash site.
AIDS Conference Attendees
Not long after news of the crash broke, it was initially reported that among the passengers were about 100 AIDS researchers and activists who were en-route to the annual World AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia. However, it was later reported by Sharon Lewin that only six attendees were known to have been on Flight 17. Among these six attendees were Joep Lange, former president of the International AIDS Society and a top-tier researcher and his wife, Jacqueline van Tongeren, Glenn Thomas, a former BBC journalist and a spokesperson for the World Health Organization, and three other attendees from the Netherlands. Numerous other researchers and healthcare workers expressed dismay at the news, saying that the course of AIDS research has likely been held back significantly.
How do we measure how much a person has done for humanity? People like Joep change the course of epidemics.
— Dr. Seema Yasmin (@DoctorYasmin) July 17, 2014
Not long after the attack, US president Barack Obama expressed condolences for the losses of the AIDS researchers (shown below).
- Malaysian Deputy Foreign Minister Hamzah Zainuddin said the next day in Malaysia that the foreign ministry would be working closely with the Russian and Ukrainian governments with regard to the incident.
- Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko vowed support for a Dutch probe into the crash, which he called an "act of terrorism". He reportedly offered condolences for the air disaster in a telephone conversation with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his deepest condolences to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, the Malaysian people and the relatives of the victims. He said responsibility for the crash rests with "the country in whose airspace the plane was in when it crashed", and that "the disaster wouldn't happen if the military action in south-east of Ukraine was not reenabled.
Meanwhile on Twitter, a number of MH17-related hashtags quickly surfaced on the list of globally trending topics, most notably #MH17 and #PrayForMH17, which were tweeted more than 3 million times and 529,000 times in the following week, respectively. In addition, the sudden influx of Malaysia Airlines-related discussions on Twitter also rekindled people's interest in the mysterious disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which is presumed to have crashed after trailing off path from its itinerary in March, giving rise to more than 143,000 mentions of the hashtag #MH370 within that same time period.
Jason Bigg's Tweet
American actor Jason Bigg came under fire when he posted a message making light of the fact that Malaysia Airlines had two major aviation accidents, the previous one being the crash of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March 2014.
The news of the tragedy struck especially hard for people in the Netherlands, as the majority of the passengers onboard were Dutch nationals. In the following week, as the official investigation and recovery efforts were reportedly stymied by the border-security politics and bureaucratic red tapes, the Dutch began calling on the Ukrainian government and others involved in the ground operation to expedite the retrieval and return of the bodies by using the Twitter hashtag #BringThemHome and updating their Facebook profile cover photo with a solid black wallpaper in mourning. By July 22nd, six days after the plane crashed, #BringThemHome had been mentioned over 14,500 times.
On June 18th, 2019, The Guardian published a reprt stating that Dutch investigators would release the names of the suspects and file charges against the suspects associated with allegedly involved in the downing of MH17.
On June 19th, 2019, investigators announced their findings (shown below). During their presentation, the investigators released the names of the men they believed to be responsible for the plane's downing and announced plans to charge the men.
That day, Newsy published a video entitled "Who Shot Down MH17? These Are The Rebels Linked To Downing." The report is a collaboration with the investigation organization Bellingcat and revealed the names of those investigators believe to be responsible for the downing (shown below).
Additionally, Bellingcat tweeted a chart of the suspects. They wrote, "We detail the role that each of these four men had in the downing with our new report. Girkin was the Minister of Defense of the DNR in July 2014, Dubinsky was the head of the GRU DNR, the Pulatov/Kharchenko were his underlings." The post received more than 250 likes and 175 retweets in 24 hours (shown below).
 Wikipedia – Malaysia Airlines Flight 17
 Radio Free Europe – Ukraine Separatist Social Media Site Claims Plane Downing
 Reuters – Malaysian airliner downed in Ukraine war zone, 295 dead
 TIME – Orange Co-Star Jason Biggs Apologizes for Malaysia Crash Tweets
 Science – HIV/AIDS field shocked by death of leading researcher in MH17 crash
 Rappler – Deja vu: Social media reacts to ill-fated flight #MH17
 The Rakya Post (via Wayback Machine) – We don’t need hashtags to pray
 Financial Express – #BringThemHome: Dutch Twitter avatars go black demanding Malaysia Airlines MH17 bodies' return
 TIME – Top AIDS Researchers Killed in Malaysia Airlines Crash
 The Guardian – MH17: prosecutors to identify suspects and file first charges
 Twitter – @bellingcat's Tweet
Jul 18, 2014 at 05:07PM EDT in reply to
Jul 18, 2014 at 02:14AM EDT
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