A Malaysia Airlines passenger plane crashed in Ukraine this morning, and all 283 passengers and 15 crew are feared dead, reports Reuters. A Ukrainian interior ministry official says the Boeing 777 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile, though it's too early to confirm the claim. (US intelligence agrees that a missile is to blame.) The plane, which originated in Amsterdam and was bound for Kuala Lumpur, was flying at 33,000 feet when it "began to drop; afterwards it was found burning on the ground on Ukrainian territory," a witness tells Interfax. It came down over territory held by separatists about 25 miles short of the Russian border, near the city of Donetsk, reports the LA Times. The region has seen fierce fighting in recent days.
Immediately afterward, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko said his troops "did not take action against any airborne targets," and pro-Russian separatists also denied responsibility. The plane appeared to have broken apart before hitting the ground, reports the AP, with one of its reporters counting at least 22 bodies at the crash site. President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone about the disaster, though no details about the discussion were immediately released. Malaysia Airlines, still reeling from the disappearance of another passenger jet, confirmed via Twitter that it "has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam. The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace." The airline's initial statement is here.