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Everything You Need to Know About the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 Crash

Malaysia Airlines, flight MH17 NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images

On Thursday, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over eastern Ukraine. The 283 passengers and 15 crew members who were aboard the Boeing 777 are all presumed dead.

Since the tragic and devastating incident, countless false reports, unsupported facts and disputes over what exactly happened have been circulating furiously; so much so that it's been nearly impossible to keep everything straight as the situation continues to develop.

Here is everything you need to know, including what has been confirmed and what is still merely speculation:

What happened?
According to U.S. intelligence officials, the airplane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile while it was flying over the war-torn Ukraine region of Donetsk. It was at 33,000 feet when it was brought down by a Russian-made SA-11 missile. Vice President Joe Biden says that the crash was not an accident and that the plane was "blown out of the sky," while the Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk called the attack an "international crime."

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Malaysia Airlines, flight MH17 Sergii Kharchenko/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Who did it?
No one knows for sure yet, but blame is being thrown at different organizations. Both pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine's government say they had nothing to do with the crash, but early assessments are leading officials to believe that the separatists are indeed responsible.

What are some of the theories on who is responsible for the crash?
These are all unconfirmed claims at this point, but some believe it was a failed assassination attempt on Russian President Vladimir Putin. There has also been unverified audio released by the Ukrainian Security Services of people who are allegedly pro-Russian militants talking about shooting down the plane. Still other reports claim that these militants can be heard on the tape insisting the shooting was an accident.

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Malaysia Airlines, flight MH17 DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

What has President Obama said about the crash?
The president stated in a press conference on Friday that the pro-Russian fighters couldn't have shot down the plane "without sophisticated equipment and sophisticated training, and that is coming from Russia."

"No one can deny the truth that is revealed in the awful images that we all have seen, and the eyes of the world are on eastern Ukraine, and we are going to make sure that the truth is out," he said.

What about Vladimir Putin?
Putin has put the blame on Ukraine for the tragedy, saying it would not have happened if it weren't for the fighting between government troops and pro-Russian rebel forces.

"Certainly, the state over whose territory this happened bears responsibility for this terrible tragedy," Putin said. "This tragedy would not have happened if there was peace in this land, they would not have been renewed war-like actions in the southeast of Ukraine."

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Malaysia Airlines, flight MH17 Adam Berry/Getty Images

Who were the people onboard?
Malaysia Airlines released a list on Friday of the nationalities of the 298 people on board the flight:

189 Dutch
27 Australian
44 Malaysian
12 Indonesian
Nine British
Four German
Four Belgian
Three Filipino
One New Zealander
One Canadian

The nationalities of four passengers have yet to be identified.

President Obama, who called the crash "an outrage of unspeakable proportions," announced on Friday that at least one person on board MH17 was an American citizen.

Approximately 100 of the passengers on the flight were World Health Organization staffers heading to an AIDS research conference in Australia, including former International AIDS Society president Joep Lange.

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What's happening with the investigation of the crash?
The site of the wreckage covers six square miles:

The pro-Russian separatists occupying the area have agreed to a temporary cease-fire so crews can investigate and clean the crash site. However, the site is so large and open that people have been walking through randomly, possibly destroying evidence, and there have even been reports of looters rifling through the luggage strewn through the area.

There have been no confirmed reports regarding the location of the black boxes. No distress calls were issued from the cockpit before the crash.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.

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