Air Traffic Avoids Ukraine

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The skies have almost emptied over Ukraine as airlines avoid the country after a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 298 people onboard was shot down Thursday. The FAA has banned U.S.-registered aircraft from transiting Ukraine airspace and it appears most of the rest of the world is also staying away. No one survived the destruction of the aircraft, which crashed near the border between Ukraine and Russia.  The aircraft was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. It has been identified as a Boeing 777 and Malaysian Airlines has confirmed that it has "lost contact" with Flight MH17, which left Amsterdam at 12.14 p.m. The crash occurred in the Donetsk region, the scene of heavy fighting and high tension between Ukraine and Russia. More details will be added as they are available. 

Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Minister, said on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters (33,000 feet) when it was hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher. A similar launcher was seen by Associated Press journalists near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne, an area controlled by rebels, earlier Thursday. According to the Washington Post, the Ukrainian government has denied that its forces were responsible for the attack on the airliner. Reuters is reporting allegations that Ukrainian rebels used a Russian Buk missile system to shoot down the airliner after they were successful in shooting down a Ukrainian military transport in the same area. Separatist rebels have claimed they retrieved the orange boxes, the Digital Flight Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorder, although there is no mention as to whether they will preserve them or allow anyone to examine them.