As soon as Malaysia Airlines confirmed it lost contact with Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine, at least one Ukrainian official said the plane had been shot down. An adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry on a Facebook post blamed “terrorists” for shooting down the Malaysia Airlines plane with 298 people aboard.
Since 1973, at least five passenger planes have been shot down:
• Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 – On February 21, 1973, 108 of 113 people aboard a Libyan Arab Airlines flight were killed when Israeli fighters shot down the Boeing 727-200 after it strayed into the airspace of the Sinai Desert, then under Israeli control.
• Korean Air Lines Flight 007 – On September 1, 1983, 239 people aboard a Korean Air Lines flight bound from New York to Seoul were killed when the passenger jet was shot down by Soviet fighters during the Cold War.
KAL Flight 007 had veered off course and into Soviet territory, and a pair of fighter jets were dispatched to intercept the perceived intruder.
U.S. Rep. Larry McDonald of Georgia was among the passengers. The downing produced a giant outcry at the time, though the full facts did not become known until after the Cold War’s end.
• Iran Air Flight 655 – On July 3, 1988, in the volatile Persian Gulf, the USS Vincennes shot down an Iran Air Airbus A300 bound for Dubai, United Arab Emirates. All 290 passengers and crew aboard were killed.
The United States said the Navy ship had been exchanging fire with Iranian ships and mistook the passenger jet for an Iranian fighter jet.
• Transair Georgia – On three consecutive days beginning on September 21, 1993, three civilian planes belonging to Transair Georgia were hit by missiles, killing 136 people altogether.
Two planes were hit by Abkhazian rebel missiles, with 27 people killed aboard one and 108 on the other. A third plane came under fire as it was being boarded, leaving one crew member dead.
• Siberian Airlines Flight 1812 – On October 4, 2001, a Siberian Airlines Tupelov 154 headed from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Novosibirsk, Russia, was shot down and plunged into the Black Sea, killing all 78 aboard, most of them Russian-born Israelis.
The Ukrainian military denied at first but later admitted its military mistakenly shot down the plane during a training exercise.