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Update 6:25 p.m. ET:Readout of the president’s call with Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia, from the White House:

President Obama called Malaysian Prime Minister Najib today to express condolences to the people of Malaysia for the terrible loss of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine, as well as all the families who lost loved ones in this tragic event. The President told the Prime Minister that United States has offered immediate assistance to support a prompt international investigation. President Obama reaffirmed the strength of the friendship between the United States and Malaysia and underscored that the United States stands ready to provide any assistance or support necessary.

Update 6:05 p.m. ET: Readout of the president’s call with President Poroshenko of Ukraine, from the White House:

President Obama spoke with Ukrainian President Poroshenko this afternoon to discuss the tragic crash of flight Malaysian Airlines 17. President Poroshenko welcomed the assistance of international investigators to ensure a thorough and transparent investigation of the crash site. President Obama assured him that U.S. experts will offer all possible assistance immediately. The Presidents emphasized that all evidence from the crash site must remain in place on the territory of Ukraine until international investigators are able to examine all aspects of the tragedy.

Update 5:46 p.m. ET: Russian President Vladimir Putin laid blame on Ukraine:

“Certainly, the state over whose territory this happened bears responsibility for this terrible tragedy,” Putin said from a meeting with advisers. “This tragedy would not have happened if there was peace in this land, they would not have been renewed war-like actions in the southeast of Ukraine.”

Update 5:24 p.m. ET: Via the Washington Post, a partial list of the nationalities of the passengers aboard the plane, released by Malaysia Airlines:

154 Dutch
27 Australian
23 Malaysian
11 Indonesian
6 UK
4 German
4 Belgian
3 Philippines
One Canadian

Update 4:59 p.m. ET: Earlier Thursday, a Ukrainian rebel leader had appeared to take credit on social media for downing an aircraft, Agence France-Presse reported.

The comments by the top military commander of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” suggest the separatists shot down the Malaysia Airlines plane by mistake, believing it was a large Ukrainian army transport plane.

“We just downed an An-26 near Torez. It is down near the Progress mine,” said the VK page attributed to Igor Strelkov, which is frequently quoted by Ukrainian media.

The rebels shot down another An-26 in rebel-held eastern Ukraine on June 14, killing 49 government servicemen.

The website did not identify the weapon used to down the plane, which Ukrainian officials said had been flying at an altitude of about 10,000 metres (33,000 feet).

But a post on the official Twitter account of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” — later removed — claimed that the separatists earlier Thursday had seized a missile system called Buk from the Ukrainian army capable of downing a jet at that altitude.

“@dnrpress: self-propelled Buk surface-to-air missile systems have been seized by the DNR from (Ukrainian) surface-to-air missile regiment A1402,” said the post.

Read more from AFP.

Ukraine Official Says Passenger Plane Carrying 295 People Has Been Shot Down

This image taken from video, Thursday July 17, 2014, shows debris at the crash site after a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday as it flew over Ukraine, near the village of Hrabove, in eastern Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines tweeted that it lost contact with one of its flights as it was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur over Ukrainian airspace. (AP Photo / Channel 1)

Update 4:46 p.m. ET:

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Update 4:30 p.m. ET: Vice President Joe Biden said he has offered U.S. assistance in determining the cause of the crash.

Update 4:10 p.m. ET:

 

Update 2:45 p.m. ET: Video purports to show the moment the plane hit the ground and erupted in a fireball.

Update 2:25 p.m. ET:

 

Update 2:11 p.m. ET: President Barack Obama: “It looks like it may be a terrible tragedy…we’re working to determine whether or not there were American citizens on board. That is our first priority.”

Ukraine Official Says Passenger Plane Carrying 295 People Has Been Shot Down

This image taken from video, Thursday July 17, 2014, shows flames rising from part of the wreckage of a passenger plane carrying 295 people after it was shot down Thursday as it flew over Ukraine, near the village of Hrabove, in eastern Ukraine. (AP Photo / Channel 1)

Update 1:58 p.m. ET: Ukrainian authorities told the U.S. Embassy that all people aboard Flight MH17 are believed dead, ABC News reported.

Update 1:46 p.m. ET: Russian President Vladimir Putin called Malaysia’s prime minister to express “deep condolences” over the crash, the Kremlin said.

Update 1:39 p.m. ET: The flight’s manifest listed 23 passengers with American citizenship, Fox News reported.

Update 1:26 p.m. ET: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration prohibited some flight operations in the region in April due to potential hazards in the disputed airspace between Ukraine and Russia.

Ukraine Official Says Passenger Plane Carrying 295 People Has Been Shot Down

This image taken from video, Thursday July 17, 2014, shows part of the wreckage of a passenger plane carrying 295 people after it was shot down Thursday as it flew over Ukraine, near the village of Hrabove, in eastern Ukraine. (AP Photo / Channel 1)

Original story:

A Ukrainian official said a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday over a region that has seen heavy clashes with pro-Russia separatists, the Associated Press is reporting.

Ukraine interior minister adviser Anton Gerashenko said the plane was flying at an altitude of about 33,000 feet when it was hit by a missile fired from a Buk surface-to-air launcher, according to the AP.

Both the Ukrainian government and pro-Russia rebels denied any involvement.

“We do not exclude that this plane was shot down, and we stress that the armed forces of Ukraine did not take action against any airborne targets,” Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko said.

Malaysia Airlines confirmed on Twitter that it had lost contact with one of its planes over Ukrainian airspace.

 

Malaysia Airlines is the same airline that lost contact with passenger flight 370 in March, which has yet to be found.

Getty Images

Getty Images

Unconfirmed footage circulating online showed heavy smoke purported to be from the impact of the crash.

Reuters reported that one of its correspondents in eastern Ukraine saw the burning wreckage of an airplane and bodies on the ground.

 

 

 

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama had been briefed about reports of the plane and had spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who told him about early reports of the crash.

Developing.