By: Lauren Saccone
On Thursday, a Malaysia Airlines jetliner crashed in Ukraine. This single, terrible incident has brought with it a seemingly endless collection of confusion, grief, and misinformation. With so much swirling around this tragedy, it’s difficult to separate the lies from the truth. Here’s what we know about the crash of Malaysia Airlines, and what is next to come:
Malaysia Airline Flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people aboard the flight. Officials believe the plane was hit by a surface-to-air missile as it passed over Ukraine’s war-torn Donetsk region. The area has been a hotbed for fighting between Ukraine and pro-Russia Ukrainian separatists. Who was behind the missile has become a heated debate, with both Russian and Ukrainian officials insisting the other side is to blame in this incident.
“This tragedy would not have happened if there were peace in this land, if the military actions had not been renewed in southeast Ukraine,” Russian president Vladimir Putin said in an official statement on Friday. “And certainly, the state over whose territory this occurred bears responsibility for this awful tragedy.”
But the blame game may not be as simple as all that; the location of the crash has made gathering information a tense international affair. Neither separatists nor Ukrainians are eager to turn over information that could implicate them in the crash. And with Malaysia trying to conduct a separate investigation, things are getting more complicated by the minute.
The United States has offered condolences to the families of those lost in the crash, and the White House has made it clear that it expects a complete investigation into the incident and who was responsible for the deaths of nearly 300 people. President Obama has emphasized that the goal should not be political infighting, but discovering what happened and preventing a similar tragedy from repeating itself in the future.
But Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 could very well prove to be one of the most problematic crash sites in history. The debris from the crash – including wreckage and body parts – extends over ten miles, and some evidence has been looted from the site. As if that wouldn’t cause enough issues on its own, the plane went down in the middle of a warzone. While pro-Russian separatists have stated that they will allow investigators into the area and cooperate fully with authorities, many experts have their doubts. The tension is at such a fever pitch that there are serious concerns that the investigation into the crash will fall by the wayside. Others worry that separatists will resist to having Ukraine representatives involved in any way with the investigation.
It’s easy for the political implications to overwhelm the basic facts, particularly in a situation like this. Russia and Ukraine are worried about what this means for them and their future. Malaysia is concerned about their second widely publicized airborne tragedy in just a few short months. The international community is watching to see how these various parties react. But the fundamental truth is that a passenger plane was shot down, killing innocent people — including the worlds’ leading AIDs researcher, 3 infants, and several nuns. Their families deserve answers on what happened to their loved ones. Politics can wait.
[Pic via Flickr - Auckland Photo News]