Malaysia Airline crash: British PM calls emergency meeting; 9 Britons on board




At least nine Britons were on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, with some passengers’ nationalities still to be determined, the airline has said.

Some 298 people were on board the Boeing 777, which crashed in eastern Ukraine after taking off from Amsterdam for Kuala Lumpur.

Prime Minister David Cameron is to chair a meeting of the government’s Cobra emergency committee to discuss the situation.

The UK Foreign Office has also set up a helpline on 020 7008 1500.

It said anyone concerned could also text MH17 to +44 7860010026, or fill in an online form at https://overseas-crisis.service.gov.uk.

Passenger data

The Boeing 777 came down between Krasni Luch, in Luhansk region, and Shakhtarsk in the neighbouring region of Donetsk – 50km from the Russia-Ukraine border.

Both sides in Ukraine’s conflict have accused each other of shooting down the plane with a missile.

A statement on the Malaysia Airlines website said nine of the passengers were from the UK, with 41 nationalities listed as “unverified”.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he was “deeply shocked” by the “appalling incident” and did not want to speculate on the causes.

The UN Security Council will also meet to discuss the incident at 15:00 BST.

Mr Cameron said Whitehall officials had met on Thursday evening to discuss the incident and establish the facts.

He tweeted the crash had left him “shocked and saddened”.

Mr Hammond told a press conference: “We are currently working through passenger data, cross-checking it and referencing it to establish exactly the numbers and identifies of those British nationals and as soon as we have further information we will be in contact with the families.”[eap_ad_2]

He also called for a UN-led international investigation.

Malaysia Airlines said that of the passengers’ nationalities identified so far, 154 were Dutch, 27 were Australian and 45 were Malaysian, including 15 crew.

As well as nine from the UK, there were passengers from Indonesia, Germany, Belgium, the Philippines and Canada, he added.

Avoiding Ukraine airspace

Ukraine’s president has called the loss of the plane an “act of terrorism” as the separatist rebels denied shooting it down.

US President Barack Obama, who spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the crash earlier, said it was a “terrible tragedy” and that US officials were trying to establish if any Americans had been on board.

Meanwhile, leading airlines have announced they are now avoiding airspace surrounding eastern Ukraine.

The Department for Transport said flights that were already airborne were being routed around the area.

British Airways said the safety and security of its customers was its top priority.

It added: “Our flights are not using Ukrainian airspace, with the exception of our once a day service between Heathrow and Kiev.

“We are keeping those services under review, but Kiev is several hundred kilometres from the incident site.”

Virgin Atlantic said it was re-routing “a small number of flights”. (BBC)[eap_ad_3]

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