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Missile attack takes down Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine

(Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

(Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

There were 298 people on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 when it was shot down Thursday. A preliminary U.S. intelligence assessment indicated that the plane was taken down by an antiaircraft missile fired by pro-Russian separatists. The Ukrainian government and rebels blamed each other for the disaster. Read our previous updates from Thursday.

What has and has not been confirmed about Flight 17

A pro-Russia militant stands guard at the crash scene on Friday. (Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty)

A day after Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine, more information has emerged about the flight, how it was shot down and who was on board. But while several details came to light on Friday, there are still key things not known.

Here is what we know and what we don’t know yet.

What we know:

  • The flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, a Boeing 777, was shot down using a surface-to-air missile. There were 298 people on the plane, nearly two-thirds of them Dutch citizens.
  • President Obama said the rocket appeared to be fired from an area controlled by pro-Russian separatists. He stopped short of directly blaming Russia or saying who fired the missile, but he did say that these separatists had received heavy weaponry and arms from Russia.
  • A preliminary U.S. intelligence assessment suggested that pro-Russian separatists shot down the plane with an SA-11 missile. Administration officials did not specifically identify the perpetrators, but they made it clear that the rebels are the likeliest suspects.
  • The U.S. has gathered significant evidence showing that Ukrainian separatists had trained on Russian territory recently to fire anti-aircraft missiles. (For what it’s worth, the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels continued to blame each other for shooting down the plane.)
  • At least one U.S. citizen was on the flight: Quinn Lucas Schansman, 19, who had dual citizenship with the Netherlands. Another Dutch victim, Karlijn Keijzner, had been a rower for Indiana University and was a doctoral student in the school’s chemistry department.
  • At least seven people on the plane were heading to an international AIDS conference in Australia.
  • Obama called for a “credible” international investigation, echoing calls from other world leaders asking for an international effort. The FBI is sending personnel (including an explosives expert), while the National Transportation Safety Board is sending at least one investigator.
  • Ukrainian authorities were in possession of one of the “black box” data recorders, a Ukrainian official said. Pro-Russian rebels said they have block boxes as well, but the Russian foreign minister said Friday that the Russian government would not be taking the boxes in a violation of international rules.

What we don’t know yet:

  • If pro-Ukrainian separatists did, in fact, shoot down the jet, the question becomes: Why? They had previously been targeting military aircraft, so shooting down a civilian plane is a big change. (Were they actually trying to shoot down the airliner? Did they know it was actually an airliner? Here’s more on this at the Switch.)
  • Details about the people on the plane. Malasyia Air has not released a full passenger manifest, so the names of many of the victims remain unknown, which mean we are only starting to learn about the nearly 300 lives that were cut short in the skies over Ukraine.
  • How many people on the plane were heading to the AIDS conference in Australia? Some media reports estimated that more than 100 passengers, or nearly a third of the people on the plane, were heading to the conference. This number drew quite a bit of attention and was repeated by Obama during his remarks Friday. But the figure has not been verified. Organizers confirmed that at least seven people on the flight were heading to the conference, but they said the actual number of delegates and attendees on the plane will likely be much lower than the “more than 100″ figure.
  • How will the investigation unfold? Access to the site where the plane’s debris is scattered has been tricky, because the plane was shot down in a part of eastern Ukraine that is being fought over by the Ukrainian government and the separatist forces. The Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe sent 30 observers to the crash scene, and they had to negotiate access to get to the heavily-guarded site. The international team of investigators is expected late Friday or on Saturday morning, and it’s unclear how the separatists and Ukrainian government will handle allowing experts access to the crash site (to say nothing of what the investigation’s findings will do to the overall fighting in the region).

Trained missile operators could have identified a civilian plane

Screen-Shot-2014-07-18-at-9.54.11

Here’s the thing: A well-trained radar operator should have been able to distinguish between a civilian airliner and military aircraft.

All aircraft carry transponders — radio equipment that sends out signals about a plane and what it’s doing. Military and civilian transponders use different patterns; the most commonly used modes for commercial flights are known as Mode C and Mode S, the latter of which is also used in a positioning system called ADS-B, a term you might be familiar with from following our coverage of that other Malaysia Airlines flight, MH370.

Meanwhile, military planes use a different identification system whose different modes are numbered rather than lettered. In the military, this system is known as International Friend-or-Foe (IFF); for civilian purposes, it’s called Secondary Surveillance Radar (SSR).

 What distinguishes one mode from another is generally how far apart two radio pulses are, along with any information that’s included in the transmission.

A missile platform like the SA-11 Gadfly relies on its operator to know which radar contacts are safe to shoot and which are not; this means the transponder codes are crucial information. Once fired, the SA-11′s missiles hunt down the target with a 95 percent interception rate, no matter who’s on the receiving end. The more advanced SA-17 Grizzly can apparently determine when it’s latched onto a civilian transponder code, but that won’t stop the operator from taking the shot.

How likely is it that the missile operators knew that a commercial airliner was their target? Read more here.

- Brian Fung

'Life was a huge adventure' to Indiana University student who died on MH17

Karlijn Keijzer is shown in this 01/14/11 portrait from IndianaUniversity. Keijzer, a doctoral student in the chemistry department in the IU College of Arts and Sciences, was among the passengers on Malaysia Air Flight 17, which crashed Thursday, July 17, leaving no survivors. Keijzer, 25, also earned her master's degree from IU and was a member of the women's rowing team during the 2011 season. (Courtesy: Mike Dickbernd)

Keijzer, a doctoral student in the chemistry department in the IU College of Arts and Sciences, was among the passengers on Malaysia Air Flight 17, which crashed Thursday. (Courtesy: Mike Dickbernd)

In Indiana University’s classrooms, Karlijn Keijzer was known as an intellectual doctoral chemistry student from the Netherlands, who spent long days testing anti-cancer and Alzheimer’s drugs. In campus sports, she was a feisty and formidable athlete who spent long mornings on the rowing team.

But she will always be remembered by her friends for one long festive night when she showed up to a costume party dressed as a giant piece of corn.

The 25-year-old student — who was back in the Netherlands just for the summer and planned to return to Bloomington in the fall — was killed along with the 297 other passengers when their Malaysia Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over Ukraine.

Keijzer’s boyfriend was also on the plane: Laurens van der Graaff. He was a 29-year-old teacher. Friends said they’d been dating just a year and were madly in love. Photographs online and on Facebook show a young, good-looking couple laughing together, arms around one another, blue eyes glowing.

More here.

- Emily Wax-Thibodeaux

Flight 17 memorials: In photos

An airport employee stands next to flowers placed in front of the Schiphol airport. (John Thys/AFP/Getty Images)

Flowers placed in front of the Schiphol airport. (John Thys/AFP/Getty Images)

A candle and a rose are placed on a piece of debris at the site. (Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images)

A candle and a rose sit on a piece of debris at the site. (Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images)

Young Indian school children of Bright Academy hold candles and prayer messages for the passengers of the Malaysia Airlines crash. (Diptendu Dutta/AFP/Getty Images)

Young Indian school children hold candles and prayer messages for the passengers of the Malaysia Airlines crash. (Diptendu Dutta/AFP/Getty Images)

Indian well-wishers along with members of an air hostess training institute hold lighted candles and white roses to pray for the victims. (Raminder Pal Singh/EPA)

Indian well-wishers along with members of an air hostess training institute hold lighted candles and white roses to pray for the victims. (Raminder Pal Singh/EPA)

People with Polish and Ukrainian flags commemorate victims of the Malaysia Arilines crash at the Dutch embassy in Moscow. (Yuri Kochetkov/EPA)

People with Polish and Ukrainian flags commemorate victims of the Malaysia Arilines crash at the Dutch embassy in Moscow. (Yuri Kochetkov/EPA)

Malaysian youth gathers during a candlelight vigil in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. (Azhar Rahim/EPA)

Malaysian youth gathers during a candlelight vigil in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. (Azhar Rahim/EPA)

Dutch King Willem-Alexander (L) and Queen Maxima (R) sign a condolence register at the Ministry of Safety and Justice in The Hague, The Netherlands. (Bart Maat/EPA)

Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima sign a condolence register at the Ministry of Safety and Justice in The Hague, The Netherlands. (Bart Maat/EPA)

A Buddhist prays in front of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Kiev. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images)

A Buddhist prays in front of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Kiev. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images)

Flying a day after Flight 17 was shot down

What is it like to fly a day after a commercial airliner was shot out of the sky? Joel Achenbach, writing on a plane heading from Washington to Texas, reports that it feels a little more dangerous.

Candlelight vigil planned for Friday night in D.C.

A nonprofit Ukrainian-American human rights group says it will hold a vigil Friday night in Washington.

Victoria St. Martin reports that the group Razom is planning to meet at 6 p.m. in front of the Dutch Embassy, located at 4200 Linnean Ave NW. Those gathered will then walk in silence to the Malaysian Embassy, according to a news release.

Another vigil is planned for Friday night in Philadelphia.

Read more about the vigil here.

Reports: Three Australian siblings killed in crash

The uncle of three Australian siblings who were returning from a family vacation on the downed Malaysia Airlines fight remembered the children as active and bright, calling them “amazing kids,” Australian media reported.

Twelve-year-old Mo, 10-year-old Evie and 8-year-old Otis Maslin were killed in Thursday’s crash, along with their grandfather, Nick Norris, according to reports. The deaths were confirmed in a statement from the South Perth Yacht Club, where the 68-year-old Norris was a member.

“They were the most incredible kids, well beyond their years in many aspects,” their uncle, Brack Norris told the Herald Sun. “We will miss them all so terribly.”

The children’s parents weren’t on the flight and heard about the crash in Amsterdam, the South of Perth Yacht Club told the Wall Street Journal.

Their aunt, Natalia Gemmell, called the trio “gentle, clever, beautiful kids,” and told the Herald Sun that she spoke with her father before the plane took off.

“In my mind he was a very great man; he has been a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserves; he’s been a headmaster; he’s been a consultant with Indigenous people with education and he has done his bit to change his part of the world,” Gemmell said. “I spoke to him just before he caught the plane to find out when he was leaving and told him I loved him and told him I’d see him when he got back.”

Friends, loved ones grieve for American MH17 passenger

A relative of passengers on flight MH17 wipes his eyes as he waits in a bus to be transported to an unknown location to receive more information, at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, Thursday, July 17, 2014. Ukraine said a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday as it flew over the country, and both the government and the pro-Russia separatists fighting in the region denied any responsibility for downing the plane. (AP Photo/Phil Nijhuis)

A relative of passengers on flight MH17 wipes his eyes as he waits in a bus to be transported to an unknown location to receive more information, at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, Thursday. (AP Photo/Phil Nijhuis)

The only confirmed U.S. citizen on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur to meet his family for a vacation, according to a friend. Quinn Lucas Schansman, 19, had dual citizenship with the Netherlands and had been educated in Amsterdam.

Schansman “stuck up for you and made you laugh when he saw there was something wrong,” according to Fabienne Schriek, a former classmate from his high school, Alberdingk Thijm College in Hilversum. He also was a peacemaker, Schriek said via a Facebook conversation. “If there was a fight in class he could cool everyone down again, made a joke and it was like it never happened. He was really down to earth and just fun guy to have around.” Schriek had just spoken to him last month.

Schansman liked soccer. He posted frequently on Instagram, smiling selfies and casual photos with his arms around friends. In a final picture, uploaded last week, two people sprawled on an outdoor trampoline. He hashtagged the event “just chillin in the garden feelin like a duck.”

Hours after Flight 17 was shot down in Ukraine, Schansman’s girlfriend, Floor van Dranen, had changed her Facebook cover photograph to depict the two of them embracing, prompting friends to leave pictures of hearts and tears, and grief stricken messages in Dutch.

More from Monica Hesse and Mary Pat Flaherty here.

Separatists said to have had anti-aircraft training in Russia

The United States has gathered a significant body of evidence that Ukrainian separatists have been trained on Russian territory in recent weeks to fire anti-aircraft missiles, according to American military and intelligence officials who have raised alarms over the reports.

Among other weapons, U.S. officials said the separatists have been trained in using mobile anti-aircraft batteries — missile systems that could be moved around on vehicles and are suspected of having been used in the downing of a Malaysia Airlines jet on Thursday.

Craig Whitlock has more here, including details on the missile battery officials believe was used to shoot down the jet.

Leader in separatist movement resigns

Denis Pushilin addressed a rally in Donetsk on May 28. (Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post)

Denis Pushilin addressed a rally in Donetsk on May 28. (Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post)

As international attention focused on pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk, one of the leading rebel figures stepped down, leaving Ukraine for Russia, Interfax reported.

Denis Pushilin, a pro-Russian rebel who had taken on the title of Chairman of the Supreme Council of the People’s Republic of Donetsk, was one of the more vocal and visible figures in the separatist movement.

“Denis is now in Moscow. He sent a letter addressed to me with a request for resignation from his post at his own request,” Pushilin’s deputy, Vladimir Makovich, told the news service Interfax. Makovich said the Donetsk rebels had voted to accept their leader’s resignation.

Pushilin maintained a steady opposition to the Ukrainian government. But when Ukrainian troops began wresting control away from the pro-Russian separatists in the east, he also expressed public disappointment that Russian President Vladimir Putin had encouraged the separatists but did not come to their aid when the Ukrainian military began making gains.

The rebel leader quickly backpedaled from those comments and has since spoken highly of Russia, tweeting earlier this week: “Russia is the only country taking care of the fate of Ukrainian people.”

Pushilin is wanted by Ukrainian law enforcement; it’s not clear how he was able to leave the country, though Ukraine doesn’t control its full border with Russia.

– Karoun Demirjian in Moscow

Russian FM repeats threat of targeted strikes against Ukraine

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.(EPA/MAXIM SHIPENKOV)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.(EPA/MAXIM SHIPENKOV)

As Ukraine and Russia traded barbs over who was responsible for shooting down the Malaysian aircraft, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov repeated an earlier warning that Russia could answer what it perceives as aggression from Ukraine with targeted strikes, during part of an interview with television station Russia 24 recorded by state-owned newswire RIA Novosti.

“We have already warned that if this continues, we will take the necessary measures,” Lavrov said, referring to shelling on the Russian side of the border that killed one civilian last weekend — Russia blamed the incident on the Ukrainian military. “At least, if it is understood that this is done intentionally, I am convinced that we need to pointedly suppress them in a one-time way.”

“According to our estimates, it’s still either the result of not very professional work of those who serve on these installations, or just a coincidence that happens in the time of war,” Lavrov said. “But we have seriously warned our Ukrainian colleagues.”

 - Karoun Demirjian in Moscow

Uncertainty surrounding number of AIDS researchers on flight

At least some of the people killed when Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 were AIDS researchers and activists heading to a conference in Australia. That much is confirmed. Beyond that, much is unknown.

News reports have estimated that more than 100 people on the plane — nearly a third of the 298 passengers killed in the crash — were heading to the conference, a number cited by President Obama during remarks on Friday. But conference organizers said that they had only been able to confirm the names of seven people so far, cautioning that the number of people on the plane heading to the conference may be lower than the figures that have been reported. (About 14,000 people are expected at the conference.)

“We have been working hard to try and confirm how many people were on the flight,” Chris Beyrer, who will take over the presidency of the International AIDS Society next week, told The Washington Post. “We’ve been speaking to a number of different authorities, and we think the actual number is much smaller.”

President Obama, speaking at the White House, called the deaths of nearly 300 people an “outrage of unspeakable proportions.” He highlighted the passengers heading to the AIDS conference during his remarks, praising these passengers as people focused on helping others.

“On board Malaysian Airlines Flight MH-17 there were apparently near 100 researchers and advocates traveling to an international conference in Australia dedicated to combating AIDS/HIV,” he said. “These were men and women who had dedicated their own lives to saving the lives of others, and they were taken from us in a senseless act of violence.”

When asked where President Obama got the “near 100 researchers and advocates” figure, the National Security Council told The Washington Post that the figure was used in remarks by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

But The Post has been unable to locate any remarks where Abbott specifically cited this figure. In addition, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop does not appear to have used the number directly, instead saying only that “a number of people” heading to the conference were on the plane. (We will update this post if we find any remarks where Abbott or Bishop cited the figure.)

Victoria Premier Denis Napthine told reporters in Melbourne that the exact number is unknown, but said “there is no doubt it’s a substantial number.”

The “nearly 100 delegates” figure appears to have originated from delegates at a pre-conference in Sydney. It has not been confirmed or debunked, in large part because the identities of most of the passengers remains unknown.

An official passenger manifest has not been released, slowing the process of identifying who was on the plane. (Malaysia Air said on Friday that it still had not determined the nationalities of four passengers.) So the AIDS conference organizers are relying on information from a variety of sources, including colleagues, friends, family members and government authorities.

Beyrer told The Washington Post that while it is possible some people were on the flight and heading to the conference that organizers did not know about, it does seem the number is “an order of magnitude smaller than what has been reported.”

Caelainn Hogan, Ariana Eunjung Cha and Joel Achenbach contributed to this report.

Missile defense systems on commercial airliners?

Sen. Mark Kirk (R.-Ill.) says he will petition the Federal Aviation Administration to install missile defense systems on commercial airliners.

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). (M. Spencer Green/AP)

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). (M. Spencer Green/AP)

“I think they should actively look into mounting active defenses on civil aircraft that are carrying hundreds of people,” Kirk, a former Navy intelligence officer, told The Post. “It’s not too technically difficult to add a radar warning system on an aircraft, where a pilot in command could dispense chaff to defeat a radar guided missile.”

Kirk said he would write to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta to propose defense systems, adding that the overthrow of Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi and the collapse of the Iraqi army had allowed large stockpiles of surface-to-air missiles to fall into uncertain hands.

“At this point we can’t just hide. We should think about how to defeat this threat technically,” Kirk said. “We should advise passengers whether an aircraft has active defenses or not and let them make the decision as they’re booking. I think that would really restore a lot of confidence in the system.”

Kirk said that identification of the missile that brought down MH17 as a Buk SA-11 suggested that active duty Russian military had a hand in the act.

​”The Buk missile system is such a complicated radar-guided system. I would think a bunch of Ukrainian hillbillies would not have an ability to operate it efficiently. You would have to have the back up of the active duty Russian military to properly deploy and use the Buk.”

– Ashley Halsey III

No shots fired at OSCE monitors at crash site

Despite earlier reports, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which sent a group of 30 observers to the crash scene on Friday, were not shot at by separatists guarding the crash site.

According to a spokesman for the organization who spoke to the observers on the ground in Donetsk, they arrived at the field to find it heavily guarded, but have been successfully negotiating with separatist forces for access to the site. The Donetsk separatists told Interfax earlier on Friday they were guarding the area with 600 men.

“They were guarding the site, and it was quite heavily guarded, and basically at some point during the assessment, the guards fired shots into the air, but the shots were not targeting the monitors as such, they were just into the air,” according to Shiv Sharma, a spokesman for the OSCE in Vienna. “It was not a particularly tense situation in which monitors were concerned about their security.”

“I don’t think it was particularly any kind of act of aggression,” she said.

The monitors were given access to the site for 75 minutes and are negotiating on a day-to-day basis for time at the site.

Their job is to secure the crash site until independent investigators arrive and assist with the transfer of bodies.

- Karoun Demirjian

Obama urges 'credible' international investigation

President Obama called the deaths of 298 passengers aboard a Malaysia Airlines jet that was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile over Eastern Ukraine an “outrage of unspeakable proportions.” While investigators have not yet determined exactly what happened, it appears as though the missile was fired from an area of Ukraine controlled by Russian separatists, he said.

While he cautioned that not all of the facts are known and did not blame anyone for shooting down the plane, Obama had strong words for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who he said could stop the violence in the region.

Head to Post Politics for more.

Bodies, debris rained down on Ukraine village

GRABOVKA, UKRAINE - JULY 18: Miners search a field for debris and human remains from an Air Malaysiaplane on July 18, 2014 in Grabovka, Ukraine. Air Malaysia flight MH17 travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed yesterday on the Ukraine/Russia border near the town of Shaktersk. The Boeing 777 was carrying 298 people including crew members, the majority of the passengers being Dutch nationals, believed to be at least 173, 44 Malaysians, 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians and 9 Britons. It has been speculated that the passenger aircraft was shot down by a surface to air missile by warring factions in the region. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

(Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

As the investigation into the crashed Malaysia Airlines flight 17 jet continues, now with the assistance of the U.S., investigators will be dealing with a massive debris field that includes not only the wheat field where a majority of the plane was found, but also residential homes in villages nearby.

Everything, from bodies to luggage and equipment, has been found in gardens and inside the homes of people nearby, leaving residents shaken and largely helpless as they wait for the authorities to collect the remains, according to Reuters:

One of the corpses fell through the rickety roof of Irina Tipunova’s house in this sleepy village, just after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 exploded high over eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists are fighting government forces.

“There was a howling noise and everything started to rattle. Then objects started falling out of the sky,” the 65-year-old pensioner said in front of her grey-brick home.

“And then I heard a roar and she landed in the kitchen, the roof was broken,” she said, showing the gaping hole made by the body when it came through the ceiling of the kitchen in an extension to the house.

The dead woman’s naked body was still lying inside the house, next to a bed.

About 100 meters (330 feet) from Tipunova’s home, dozens more dead bodies lay in the wheat fields where the airliner came down on Thursday, killing all 298 people on board.

Off-duty coal miners have taken on the somber task of trudging through sunflowers fields to help locate debris and human remains.

Ukrainian coal miners search the site of a crashed Malaysia Airlines passenger plane near the village of Rozsypne, Ukraine, eastern Ukraine Friday, July 18, 2014. Rescue workers, policemen and even off-duty coal miners were combing a sprawling area in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border where the Malaysian plane ended up in burning pieces Thursday, killing all 298 aboard. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

(AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

A piece of a plane with the sign "Malaysia Airlines" lies in the grass as a group of Ukrainian coal miners search the site of a crashed Malaysian passenger plane near the village of Rozsypne, Ukraine, eastern Ukraine Friday, July 18, 2014. Rescue workers, policemen and even off-duty coal miners were combing a sprawling area in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border where the Malaysian plane ended up in burning pieces Thursday, killing all 298 aboard. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

A piece of a plane with the sign “Malaysia Airlines” lies in the grass as a group of Ukrainian coal miners search the site of a crashed Malaysian passenger plane near the village of Rozsypne, Ukraine, eastern Ukraine Friday, July 18, 2014. Rescue workers, policemen and even off-duty coal miners were combing a sprawling area in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border where the Malaysian plane ended up in burning pieces Thursday, killing all 298 aboard. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

GRABOVKA, UKRAINE - JULY 18: A group of miners prepare to search a field for debris and human remains from an Air Malaysiaplane on July 18, 2014 in Grabovka, Ukraine. Air Malaysia flight MH17 travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed yesterday on the Ukraine/Russia border near the town of Shaktersk. The Boeing 777 was carrying 298 people including crew members, the majority of the passengers being Dutch nationals, believed to be at least 173, 44 Malaysians, 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians and 9 Britons. It has been speculated that the passenger aircraft was shot down by a surface to air missile by warring factions in the region. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

(Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

The scene at the Amsterdam airport

Flowers outside Schiphol airport in Amsterdam.  (AP Photo/Phil Nijhuis)

Flowers outside Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. (AP Photo/Phil Nijhuis)

AMSTERDAM – The airport kiosks were selling newspapers plastered with news of the crash. Travelers rushed by, hustling to make their Friday flights. Murphy’s Irish Pub still offered its nachos-and-Heineken special, not far from a vendor selling orange soccer jerseys of the Dutch national team.

Just after noon, another Malaysia Airlines plane departed this airport bound for Kuala Lumpur. It was Flight 17, which the airline was still operating a day after MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine.

At Schiphol Airport, there were few outward signs of the air disaster that killed 298 people. This is, after all, the world’s 14th-busiest airport, and people still had places to go. Freight still needed to be moved.

One of the few places where pain and loss were on display was outside the glass walls of Terminal 3. Bouquets lay on the sidewalk, roped off and watched over by an airport worker.

Herman Plukaard stopped to drop off a collection of small white flowers he’d bought at the flower shop on the floor below. Plukaard works at the airport, near the Malaysia Airlines desk. He probably conducted business with passengers on Thursday’s Flight 17.

“It is madness what’s happening,” he said. “No one can imagine this happening.”

Inge Dekker dropped off a bouquet of tulips after arriving in her home country from London. She didn’t know anyone on the flight, but she had friends who did. She was struck by how many Dutch were onboard the plane.

“Everybody is just in shock,” she said.

– Todd C. Frankel

Two Newcastle United fans killed in crash

Two Newcastle United fans traveling to watch the team play in New Zealand were among the victims of the Malaysia Airlines crash, the team confirmed Friday.

Newcastle United called John Alder and Liam Sweeney “two of the Club’s most loyal supporters.” Alder and Sweeney were headed to the Football United Tour, scheduled to take place next week in Dunedin and Wellington, the club said.

“John was a lifelong supporter and a familiar sight in the stands for almost half-a-century, having barely missed a single game in that time,” the club said in a statement. “Liam will be known to many fans during his time volunteering as a steward on supporters’ buses to away games.”

Players and manager Alan Pardew will wear black armbands in New Zealand, and Newcastle United will pay tribute to the pair in August, according to the statement.

Some players were also tweeting about the crash Friday.

Video allegedly shows 'Buk' missile en route to Russia

A short video posted to YouTube by the Ukrainian government reportedly shows a “Buk,” or SA-11 “Gadfly,” surface-to-air missile system en route from eastern Ukraine to the Russian border on Friday.

While the video cannot be independently verified, the footage appears to show the system with at least one of its missiles missing. It also seems to be mounted on a tracked chassis, although it has been loaded onto a flatbed trailer. Tracked vehicles are decidedly slower than their wheeled counterparts. The use of the truck could indicate the system’s own propulsion system is disabled, or that speed is a priority for whomever is moving it.

U.S. officials asserted Friday that the Malaysian airliner that crashed in Ukraine was likely downed by an SA-11 operated from a separatist-held location.

More from Thomas Gibbons-Neff here.

Obama: 'Outrage of unspeakable proportions'

President Obama called the shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines plane “a global tragedy,” calling for an international investigation to determine what happened.

Obama, speaking at the White House on Friday morning, said that at least one U.S. citizen was killed in the crash. But he pointed to the facts of Flight 17′s destruction — an Asian airliner carrying nearly 300 people from several countries, shot down over Europe — as evidence of why this requires an international effort.

“Their deaths are an outrage of unspeakable proportions,” Obama said.

Obama called for a “credible” international investigation, one that would allow investigators access to the crash site and require a cease-fire in the region.

The “outrageous event” serves as a reminder that peace is needed in the contested Ukrainian region, he said.

Obama also echoed what other U.S. officials had previously reported, saying that the plane was taken down by a surface-to-air missile fired from a Ukrainian area controlled by Russian-backed separatists. He also said that the separatists had received heavy weaponry and training from Russia, something the White House also said he noted to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a phone call on Thursday.

“Violence and conflict inevitably lead to unforeseen consequences,” Obama said. “Russia, these separatists, and Ukraine all have the capacity to put an end to the fighting.”

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