*Live Updates* Malaysian Passenger Plane Downed Over Ukraine
Early Thursday afternoon Eastern Time, news broke that a Malaysian Passenger Plane carrying 295 souls was shot down over Ukraine. The Boeing 777 carried 280 passengers and 15 crew members.
Refresh for regular updates as the facts present themselves. The newest information can be found at the top. All times Eastern.
4:12 pm - ‘Big Question’ Is Why Plane Was Flying Over War Zone
During a phone interview with CBS News Thursday morning, Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger was questioned why Malaysia Airlines flight 17 would be flying over Ukraine’s border with Russia despite ongoing political unrest in the area.
Sullenberger, the veteran of the 2009 Miracle on the Hudson landing, is an aviation expert for CBS News, and was asked by Anchor Scott Pelley why a commercial plane would be flying over an area where two aircraft have been shot down just this week.
“That is one of the big questions right now,” said Sully. “The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has barred U.S. Airlines from flying over this area for some time.”
4:08 pm - State Department Spokeswoman Still Can't Say If Americans Were On Board Plane
Appearing with Alex Wagner on MSNBC, State Department spokeswoman Jes Psaki said that the Administration still has no idea if any Americans were on board the Malaysian 777 shot down over Ukraine today.
3:58 pm - RT: Sources Deny Putin's Plane Targeted
RT: Reports that Putin flew similar route as MH17, presidential airport says 'hasn't overflown Ukraine for long time'
3:35 pm - Howard Stern Prankster Fools MSNBC Into Putting Him On Live
In video captured by Hot Air's Noah Rothman, the unthinkable was allowed to happen when MSNBC somehow dropped its guard in the middle of an international crisis and allowed a Howard Stern prank caller through live on the air.
During MSNBC's "The Cycle," Krystal Ball and the show's producers were fooled into believing the prankster was a witness to the Malaysian airliner tragedy in Ukraine.
Worse still, it's obvious no one was paying attention in front of or behind the camera during the interview. Even after revealing himself, the prankster was allowed to continue:
3:18 pm -- Ukraine Govt. Claims to Have Recordings of 'Terrorists' Discussing 'Shoot-Down'
The "terrorists" referenced are pro-Russian separatists using Russian weaponry.
3:09 pm -- Ukraine President: This is a 'Terrorist Action'
2:55 pm -- Kremlin News Agency Claims Putin's Plane Targeted by Ukraine
The Russian news agency RT is pushing back hard against the idea that Russia or Russian separatists in Ukraine were behind the shooting down of a Malaysian passenger plane.
Malaysian Airlines MH17 plane was travelling almost the same route as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s jet shortly before the crash that killed 295, Interfax news agency reports citing sources.
“I can say that Putin’s plane and the Malaysian Boeing intersected at the same point and the same echelon. That was close to Warsaw on 330-m echelon at the height of 10,100 meters. The presidential jet was there at 16:21 Moscow time and the Malaysian aircraft - 15:44 Moscow time,” a source told the news agency on condition of anonymity.
"The contours of the aircrafts are similar, linear dimensions are also very similar, as for the coloring, at a quite remote distance they are almost identical", the source added.
RT making the claim Ukraine was targeting the Russian president is a very serious charge for one country to make against another. It is essentially claiming an act of war was committed.
2:39 pm - Russian Separatists Not Letting Ukraine Officials Near Crash Site
Fox News reports that although the Malaysian passenger plane crashed in Ukraine, the 9 mile wide crash site is controlled by pro-Russian separatists who are not allowing Ukraine officials near the site to investigate.
2:10 pm -- Obama: "It looks like it may be a terrible tragedy."
At a previously scheduled event, President Obama opened with remarks about the downed Malaysian passenger plane, "It looks like it may be a terrible tragedy."
Obama said his Administration was looking into whether any Americans were on board and then appeared to return to his previously prepared remarks.
1:53 pm -- NBC News Rips Obama Administration for Not Knowing About American Passengers
1:49 pm -- Photo of Crash
1:43 pm - Report: 23 Americans On Board Downed Plane
Source: Authorities said 295 people were on board the plane when it went down; all are presumed dead.
Interfax reported Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashenko said 23 of those are Americans.
1:36 pm -- Pentagon: Plane Shot Down By SAM, "Possibly From Inside Russian Territory"
ABC News just reported that the Pentagon believes the Malaysian passenger plane was shot down, "possibly" from Russian territory.
The belief has been that Russian separatists do not have that kind of anti-aircraft weaponry. They are now re-evaluating that belief.
1:32 pm -- Russians Moving Troops Back to Ukrainian Border
ABC News reports that after backing away its troops from the Ukrainian border, Russia is now moving them back in place "creating a lot of tension."
1:30 pm -- Ukrainians Blaming Russia; Will Present Evidence "Soon"
ABC News reports that the Ukrainian foreign minister has officially blamed the Russians and Russian equipment for shooting down the Malaysian passenger plane. The announcement included the promise that they will present proof of this claim "soon."
1:25 pm -- As International Crisis Unfolds, Obama Literally Out to Lunch
1:13 -- Reports Pro-Russian Separatists Mistakenly Shot Plane Down
Source: There are some reports that Col. Igor Strelkov, commander of the pro-Russian separatists in the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic," is taking credit for downing a second Ukrainian airplane today, not realizing that in fact it was the Malaysian airliner.
1:09 pm -- Putin In Touch With Malaysia' PM
1:09 pm -- Rebels Claim They Do Not Have Weapons Necessary to Shoot Plane Down
1:03 pm -- Ukraine and Russia Both Deny Attack
CBS News reports that the passenger plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet, the safest cruising height for a Boeing 777, when it was shot down with a SAM or Surface to Air Missile.
Both Ukraine and Russia deny being behind the attack.
Russian separatists and other rebels that don't fall under the command and control of either government might have the weapons systems necessary for this kind of attack.
12:50 pm --Photo of Crash Site
12:38 pm --