A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 295 people aboard crashed Thursday in Ukraine near the Russian border after reportedly being hit by a missile, according to an adviser to Ukraine’s interior ministry.
Anton Gerashenko, the adviser, says on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet when it was hit Thursday by a missile fired from a BUK launcher, the Associated Press reports.
A similar launcher was seen by AP journalists near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne earlier Thursday.
BUK, also known as SA-17 GRIZZLY, is a mobile anti-aircraft system mounted usually on a tracked vehicle or truck that can simultaneously track and strike six targets flying from different directions and at different altitudes, according to military thinktank Globalsecurity.org.
It was not immediately clear who would have been in control of such a launcher in the restive area where Ukrainian forces are battling ethnic Russian separatists.
The incident comes one day after a Russian military plane reportedly shot down a Ukrainian jet fighter over Ukrainian territory, forcing the pilot to eject, according to the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council spokesman.