A Malaysia Airlines passenger plane that was carrying 295 people was shot down over Ukraine on Thursday, killing all passengers on board, a Ukrainian official confirmed.
The aircraft, which was shot down near the Russian border, was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it fell near the city of Donetsk in a war-torn area which has become a stronghold for pro-Russian rebels.
Anton Gerashenko, a Ukrainian Interior Ministry official, addressed the news on Facebook and said that the plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet when it was struck by an air-to-ground missile fired from a Buk rocket launcher.
"A civilian airliner travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur has just been shot down by a Buk anti-aircraft system...280 passengers and 15 crew have been killed," Gerashenko was quoted as saying by Interfax-Ukraine news agency.
The Malaysia Airlines Twitter account confirmed that they had "lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam," adding that the "last known position was over Ukrainian airspace."
Shortly after, the airline, which previously had one of its flights disappear over the Indian Ocean in March, released an updated statement via Facebook, confirming that contact was lost with the Boeing 777 aircraft approximately 50 km (about 31 miles) from the Russian border. The statement added that the plane was carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew members on board.
The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, took to Twitter following the news, admitting he was "shocked" by reports and announced that they "are launching an immediate investigation."
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko also released a statement and insisted that the military did not have any involvement. "We do not exclude that this plane was shot down, and we stress that the Armed Forces of Ukraine did not take action against any airborne targets," Poroshenko stated, adding that "those who are guilty in this tragedy will be held responsible."
According to reports, pro-Russian separatists, who have been fighting with Ukrainian troops, have also denied any involvement in the crash.
The tragedy comes just one day after a Ukrainian fighter jet was shot down by a Russian military plane, according to the Ukrainian goverment, although Moscow has denied the accusation.
President Barack Obama addressed the situation, saying that the administration is "working to determine whether there were American citizens on board, that is our first priority." The president also had a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin about the unfolding events.