Malaysia Airlines disaster in Ukraine sparks international crisis

The airline scrambles as a second plane this year goes down. But this one reportedly was shot down amid the separatist conflict in the Eastern European country.

The crash of a jet throws crisis communicators into the unenviable position of managing reputation amid a horrific tragedy that far outweighs concerns about a brand.

But when a Malaysia Airlines jet crashed today—the second such disaster within a few months, as happened with the reported shooting down of its jet in Ukraine—the damage went beyond even the incalculable human loss to become an international political crisis.

Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko claimed a Malyasian plane had been shot down by a ground-to-air missile, killing all 280 passengers and 15 crew members. The nation’s president says no Ukrainian forces were taking action in the area, implying that pro-Russian separatists downed the jet.

The Boeing 777, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed near the town of Shakhtarsk in eastern Donetsk region, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. The area is a rebel stronghold.

Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines reported it had lost contact with a plane from Amsterdam over Ukraine.

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