The U.S. can not confirm whether any citizens were on board Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 when it crashed in Ukraine, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. A Russian Interior official has said that 23 Americans were on board. The Dutch Justice Minister says that the crash has many victims from the Netherlands. Nine Britons and four French may be among the victims.
The plane was reportedly downed by pro-Russian rebel forces, who have denied responsibility. The forces are posing an obstacle to emergency crews trying to reach the crash site. President Petro Poroshenko has called the incident a "terror act," according to an Interfax report. The plane reported no difficulties before it disappeared from radar. Interfax is reporting that Putin's plane may have been the target of a Ukrainian rocket.
Speaking in Delaware, President Barack Obama said that "the world is watching" reports from Ukraine and he offered U.S. assistance. Foreign ministries are scrambling to learn what they can about the crash. U.S., U.K., French, German, and Spanish said they still gathering information about the circumstances surrounding the crash of the plane, which was carrying 295 people.
Nations and airlines are beginning to avoid Ukrainian airspace. The French government has requested that airlines avoid the area, having stopped flights over Crimea in April. (The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration advised carriers also in April to avoid parts of Ukraine.) Luftansa, BA, KLM, Aeroflot, Air France, Turkish Airlines and Alitalia are flying routes around the area or stopped flying over eastern Ukraine some time ago.
The black box has been found. Earlier, the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic said they will hand over the plane's black box to the Moscow-based Interstate Aviation Committee, according to an Interfax report.
The tragedy occurs during a day of high-level negotiations about continued hostilities in Ukraine. The U.S. yesterday added new sanctions on Russia yesterday, over its annexation of eastern Crimea. Russia initiated a phone call about the matter between presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama. They spoke earlier today and Putin told Obama about reports of a crash in Ukraine during the call. The Russian president also spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel about the sanctions related to its activity in Ukraine.
Dutch travel agencies have begun releasing information about possible clients of theirs on the flight. D-Reizen says 25 of its clients were booked on the flight, as were 30 clients of the firm WTC.