China 'shocked' at Malaysian plane crash

Updated: 2014-07-18 13:53

By Ai Heping in New York (China Daily USA)

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The Chinese government was "shocked" by the crash of a Malaysian plane in Ukraine and is trying to determine whether Chinese citizens were onboard, a foreign ministry spokesman said in Brasiia on Thursday.

"We are shocked by the news that the Malaysia Airlines MH17 flight crashed in eastern Ukraine. We convey our deep condolence to the victims and our sincere sympathy to their families," Qin Gang said in a statement.

"We hope that the causes can be found out as soon as possible," added Qin, who is accompanying Chinese President Xi Jinping in Brazil on a four-nation Latin America tour.

Flight 17 took off shortly after noon Thursday from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 298 people on board, 283 passengers, including 3 infants, and 15 crew members.

Malaysia Airlines posted a list of passenger nationalities on its website for the 298 passengers and crew: 154 Dutch, 27 Australian, 43 Malaysian (including 15 crew and two infants), 12 Indonesian (including one infant), 9 British, 4 German, 4 Belgian, 3 Filipino and one Canadian. The airline said it did not yet know the nationalities of the remaining 41 passengers.

Ukraine accused pro-Russian separatists of shooting down the jetliner. The rebels denied downing the aircraft.

American intelligence authorities believe a surface-to-air missile brought the plane down but were still working on who fired the missile and whether it came from the Russian or Ukrainian side of the border, a US official said.

Bodies, debris and burning wreckage of the Boeing 777 were strewn over a field near the rebel-held village of Hrabove in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Russian border, where fighting has raged for months.

US President Barack Obama called the crash a "terrible tragedy" and spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Britain asked for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Ukraine.

It was the second Malaysia Air plane to be involved in a crash this year. On March 8, Malaysia Air Flight MH370 vanished with 239 people on board - 154 of them Chinese - after it took off from Kuala Lampur bound for Beijing. Malaysian officials said the plane disappeared somewhere in the Southern Indian Ocean, but no wreckage has ever been recovered.

 China 'shocked' at Malaysian plane crash

An Emergencies Ministry member walks at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 17. The Malaysian airliner Flight MH17 was brought down over eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 295 people aboard and sharply raising the stakes in a conflict between Kiev and pro-Moscow rebels in which Russia and the West back opposing sides. Maxim Zmeyev / Reuters

(China Daily USA 07/18/2014 page1)