A man walks amongst the debris at the crash site near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine on Thursday. Photo: Polfoto/AP/Dmitry Lovetsky
No Danes are thought to be among the 298 casualties when a Malaysia Airlines flight crashed in eastern Ukraine, but an unverified report says an outbound flight from Copenhagen was close behind. Martin Lidegaard said the international community needs answers.
The Malaysia Airlines flight that crashed into pro-Russian separatist territory in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, believed to have been shot down, was not believed to be carrying any Danish passengers.
The vice president of Malaysia Airlines Europe, Huib Gorter, confirmed on Thursday evening at Schiphol Airport that there were 154 Dutch citizens on board, 27 Australians, 43 Malaysians, 11 Indonesians, nine Britons, four Germans, four Belgians, three Filipinos and a Canadian. An additional 41 victims have not had their nationalities verified.
There were no survivors among the plane’s 298 passengers.
The Boeing 777, travelling from Amsterdam Schiphol to Kuala Lumpur, was blown out of the sky at 10,000 metres, by what US officials claim was a Russian-made surface to air missile.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin has blamed the Ukrainian government, saying the tragedy would not have happened if it had not escalated the war in eastern Ukraine, while the Kiev government blamed the pro-Russian rebels for shooting down the plane.
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko described the crash of flight MH17 as a "terrorist act".
US vice president Joe Biden, meanwhile, described the plane as being "blown out of the sky".
Denmark’s foreign minister, Martin Lidegaard, said that the international community should not rush to judgement.
“Terrible MH17 tragedy in Eastern Ukraine,” Lidegaard wrote on Twitter. “My most deep-felt condolences to families and relatives. Facts must be established!”
Lidegaard's measured response was in sharp contrast to his Swedish counterpart, Carl Bildt, who in a series of tweets pointed a finger at pro-Russian separatists.
The crash is likely to have severe international consequences, coming on the day that the US and EU increased sanctions against Russia for its ongoing support of rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Several airlines have changed their flight routes so as to avoid airspace over east Ukraine. SAS does not fly any planes over the region.
According to information from a flight tracking website, Flightradar24.com, a Singapore Airlines flight from Copenhagen was the nearest plane to MH17 when it went down. The site reports that the Singapore Airlines was 20-30 kilometres behind the Malaysian Airlines flight, but Singapore Airlines would neither confirm nor deny that information.