Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, which was on a scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 298 people on board. The incident has prompted world leaders to demand an international probe to determine who was responsible for bringing down the commercial plane.
This was the second loss of a plane for Malaysia Airlines this year after Flight MH370 went missing in early March while traveling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, carrying 239 people. The disappearance of the plane, which was later believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, has triggered an unprecedented ongoing search effort involving several countries and international agencies.
According to Malaysia Airlines, Flight MH17 was carrying 283 passengers, including three infants of various nationalities, and 15 crew members, all of whom were Malaysian nationals. The nationalities of some of the passengers are yet to be determined.
Here is a set of facts about the Boeing 777-200 that was Flight MH17:
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1. The B777-200 aircraft with the registration number 9M-MRD, which operated as MH17 on July 17, had a clean maintenance record, according to a Malaysia Airlines statement released Friday. The plane’s last maintenance check was done on July 11 and was declared safe to fly. The next check was due on Aug. 27.
2. The plane was manufactured in July 1997, and during its 17 years of service, the aircraft had recorded 75,322 hours of flying time, and a total of 11,434 cycles. A cycle is defined as one take-off and one landing.
3. The plane used a Rolls-Royce Trent-800 engine and could seat 282 people in its current configuration. According to airline officials, all communications systems on MH17 were functioning normally.
4. Flight MH17, which was flying at a height of about 33,000 feet, is believed to have been brought down by a surface-to-air missile called the “Buk,” which was developed in the erstwhile Soviet Union. According to reports, the “Buk” is capable of striking targets above 40,000 feet while flying at three times the speed of sound.
5. While Malaysia Airlines said that the nationalities of 41 passengers are yet to be identified, Reuters reported that 23 were U.S. citizens. President Barack Obama had earlier announced that investigations are ongoing to confirm how many Americans were on board.
6. Cor Pan, a passenger from the Netherlands, left a post on his Facebook account before boarding MH17, joking about the disappearance of MH370.
7. Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, chief of Ukraine’s Security Service, said that he had “unconditional evidence” that Russia was involved in the downing of the aircraft. But, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Ukraine was responsible for the crash.
8. A report from The Daily Telegraph pointed toward social media posts by pro-Russia insurgents, suggesting that the rebels initially thought they had shot down a Ukrainian army plane, but later came to realize that it was a Malaysian commercial airliner.
9. The plane was carrying 108 scientists and researchers traveling for a conference on AIDS in Melbourne, Australia. And, one of the scientists on board was Joep Lange, former president of the International AIDS Society and a leading authority on HIV research who was behind several anti-retroviral therapy trials.
Here are some videos that show the downing of the plane:
Local people witnessed smoke