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President Obama Says at Least One American On Board Downed Malaysia Airline Plane in Ukraine

By Tajuddin
Jul 18th, 2014

Washington (ABCNEWS + DIPLOMAT)- At least one American was on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 carrying 298 people when it was shot down by a missile over Ukraine, President Obama said today.

The State Department identified the victim as Quinn Lucas Schansman, a US-Dutch citizen.

Obama also called for an immediate ceasefire in the region among Ukraine, Russia and Russian-backed separatists in order to conduct an investigation into the crash site in eastern Ukraine.

“We know [Russian separatists] have received steady support from Russia, which includes heavy weapons and training … and includes anti-aircraft weapons,” Obama said.

U.S. officials said earlier today that intelligence showed nothing that definitively links Russia to the training of those who launched the missile on Thursday, U.S. officials told ABC News.

But officials did say that based on preliminary intelligence, they believe the missile was an SA-11 and that they have reports showing an explosion in the air following the missile launch.


In addition, an official said the missile was fired inside Ukraine in a territory controlled by Russian separatists. Ukrainian authorities told U.S. Embassy officials Thursday that debris was spread out over a 10-mile path near the town of Hrabove in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.

Intelligence and analysis of the situation determined that it was a single surface-to-air missile that struck the Boeing 777-200 aircraft while at cruising altitude, a U.S. official told ABC News on Thursday.

“This was a global tragedy,” said Obama. “There has to be a credible international investigation into what happened.”

Earlier today, Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, told the U.S. Security Council that U.S. officials can’t rule out whether Russia helped launch the missile that shot down the jetliner.

“Because of the technical complexity of the SA-11, it is unlikely that the separatists could effectively operate the system without assistance from knowledgeable personnel. … We cannot rule out technical assistance from Russian personnel in operating the systems,” she said.

The pro-Russian separatists, who control the area where the jetliner was brought down, have agreed to allow investigators safe access to the site today in order to recover bodies and gather evidence, according to a statement from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

The plane had left Amsterdam at 12:15 p.m. Thursday (local time) and was en route to Kuala Lumpur International Airport, where it was scheduled to land today at 6:10 a.m. (local time), according to Malaysia Airlines.

Malaysia Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai, speaking at a news conference this morning, said initial indications show the plane was shot down, calling it “an outrage against human decency.”

“Malaysia condemns any such action in the strongest possible terms, and calls for those responsible to be swiftly brought to justice,” he added.

Malaysian officials are calling for an independent international investigation into the incident.

Malaysian officials have said that 189 passengers were Dutch. In addition, according to officials at a news conference this morning, 44 were Malaysian, 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians, nine British, four Belgians, four Germans, three Filipinos, one Canadian and one New Zealander.

Nationalities of three other passengers remain unknown at this time.

Among the victims identified were the Gunawan family, relatives of an ABC News employee. Hadiono Gunawan, an employee of Malaysia Airlines, was headed to the Philippines for a family vacation.

His wife, Irene, and their two children, Daryl and Sherryl, were traveling with him.

Karlijn Keijzer, a Dutch student studying in the United States, was going on vacation with her boyfriend.

“I’m just in disbelief and expecting Karlijn to pop up on Facebook and tell everybody she’s OK,” Keijzer’s friend, Rachel Weigler said in a phone interview with ABC News.

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