Malaysia Airlines uses social media for first public comments on plane crash in Ukraine

After a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane was reportedly shot down by a surface-to-air missile in Ukraine near the Russian border on Thursday, the airline went straight to Twitter and Facebook to communicate with the public about the situation.

After a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane was reportedly shot down by a surface-to-air missile in Ukraine near the Russian border on Thursday, the airline went straight to Twitter and Facebook to communicate with the public about the situation.

The plane had 295 people onboard when it crashed. An adviser to Ukraine's interior minister said the jet had been shot down, the Associated Press reported. This crisis follows months of conflict between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian security forces.

On Twitter and Facebook, the airline posted a statement reading, "Malaysia Airlines has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam [to Kuala Lumpur]. The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace. More details to follow."

Malaysia Airlines later posted a statement to its website confirming it received notification from Ukrainian air-traffic control that it had lost contact with the plane near the Russia-Ukraine border.

Boeing, too, posted on Twitter, "We are aware of reports on MH17. We're gathering more information."

Shortly after, Boeing posted another statement to its Twitter account and website stating that the company "stands ready to provide assistance."

News agency Interfax-Ukraine first reported that the crash occurred in eastern Ukraine.

Separatists and the Ukrainian government have been blaming each other for shooting the plane down. Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, wrote on Facebook that "terrorists shot down" the plane, and separatist leader Aleksader Borodai alleged it was the Ukrainian Air Force.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak also took to Twitter, writing, "I am shocked by reports that an MH plane crashed. We are launching an immediate investigation."

In March, Malaysia Airlines engaged Ketchum to provide advice and media support one week after Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, due to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, disappeared. The firm said at the time that it was not working with the Malaysian government.

Ketchum representatives did not return calls and emails seeking comment. It was not immediately clear if the agency is still working with Malaysia Airlines or assisting it with communications help for Thursday’s incident.

Malaysia Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said on Twitter that there was "no confirmation" the plane had been shot down, told the public to "keep calm," and that he would provide ongoing updates.

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