Contrary to Indian government reports, an Air India Boeing 777 was flying less than 25 kilometers (15 miles) away from the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that was shot down over eastern Ukraine Thursday, a distance covered in 90 seconds, the Times of India reported.
The flight from Delhi to Birmingham, England, was so close to the downed MH17 flight, the local Ukrainian air traffic controller asked the Air India pilots to establish contact with the Malaysian pilots who had stopped responding to calls, an airline source told the Times of India.
“When the pilots learned the cause of the crash later, they were stunned,” the source said. “It's like the person standing next to you has been hit by a sniper bullet.”
India’s civil aviation ministry said Friday in a statement there was "no Air India flight near the ill-fated Malaysian plane at the time of this incident.”
The Air India flight carried 126 people and was the closest plane to MH17 along with a Singapore Airlines plane returning from Copenhagen.
Another Indian flight, Air India One, carried Prime Minster Narendra Modi from Frankfurt to Delhi and flew out of Ukraine as MH17 burst into flames about 125 kilometers (78 miles) away, the Economic Times reported.