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Malaysia Airlines Plane Crashes In Ukraine Near Border With Russia

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A Malaysia Airlines plane flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with nearly 300 people on board crashed in eastern Ukraine near the border with Russia on Thursday. Media reports indicate the jet, a Boeing 777, crashed near the village of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.

Notably, the area is predominantly controlled by pro-Russian separatist rebels fighting the Ukrainian government.

According to officials, there were 280 passengers and 15 crewmembers on board the plane when it crashed. All of them are feared dead.

Malaysia Airlines said in a tweet that it had lost contact with Flight MH17 from Amsterdam. The airline added that the last known position of the aircraft was over Ukrainian airspace.

"Malaysia Airlines has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam. The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace. More details to follow," the company said.

Media reports indicate the plane was at an altitude of just over 10 kilometers and some 80 kilometers from Russian airspace when it crashed. The plane went down in an area where pro-Russian separatists are believed to have shot down two Ukrainian military planes just days ago.

At that time, the Ukrainian government alleged the military planes were either shot down by the Russian military or by advanced weapons the rebels received from Moscow. Russia has denied both claims.

Confirming Thursday's crash, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said, "This is a third such tragic event in recent days, when Ukrainian military An-26 and Su-25 aircraft have been shot down from Russian territory."

"The Ukrainian armed forces did not attempt to shoot down targets in the air," he added.

Some unconfirmed reports suggest that Flight MH17 was also shot down with a surface to air missile by the pro-Russian rebels, but such accounts are yet to be reaffirmed.

It has not yet been confirmed whether the rebels posses the advanced surface-to-air missiles or other weaponry required to shoot down aircraft flying at high altitudes.

This is the second crash involving a Malaysia Airlines plane this year after the disappearance of Flight MH370 in March. The Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines flight with 239 people aboard disappeared in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and its wreckage has yet to be located.

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