Many of the passengers aboard the flight were heading to a conference on AIDS research in Australia. The Sydney Morning Herald cited conference attendees in reporting that approximately 100 of the passengers were heading to the conference, including former president of the International AIDS Society Joep Lange.
Ukrainian officials blamed separatists for the attack on the plane, a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine's Interior Minister, wrote on Facebook that the plane was hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher over the country's east. Ukraine's intelligence agency claimed it intercepted phone calls that proved rebels' ties to the crash.
U.S. officials told NBC News that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile, and that they "were trying to determine who fired the missile." Russian separatists have shot down several Ukrainian military planes in recent months.
The Daily Beast reports that the plane's black box had been sent to Moscow for investigation, citing a Russian radio station.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Ukraine bore responsibility for the crash, saying in televised comments, "This tragedy would not have happened, if there had been peace on that land, or in any case if military operations in southeastern Ukraine had not been renewed."
Airlines scrambled to divert their flights away from Ukrainian airspace following the crash.
President Obama spoke briefly about the incident, calling it a "terrible tragedy." Vice President Biden also commented, saying the crash was "not an accident."
Ukraine's east has seen heavy fighting since the country's army launched an operation to recapture eastern cities from rebel fighters.
source: huffingtonpost.com By Benjamin Hart