Outrage in the skies

Updated - November 16, 2021 06:51 pm IST

Published - July 19, 2014 02:33 am IST

The tragic and outrageous shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft on a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur over Ukrainian airspace on Thursday is a direct consequence of the ongoing war in Ukraine. Even while offering solace to the family of the dead, the international community needs to fix the responsibility for the firing of the missile that >brought down the aircraft that was flying 33,000 feet above sea level, with 298 people >on board . There have been at least 20 such incidents since the 1940s, when aircraft have been struck down by a missile or military jet. The blame game has already started among the Ukrainian government, the pro-Russian rebel forces fighting the separatist war in the eastern part of the country, and Russia itself. There have been previous instances of Ukraine’s military aircraft getting shot down in the same region. It is surprising that some international carriers have been sticking to this dangerous airspace all these weeks and months and only now have decided to steer clear of the zone. The Ukrainian rebels, the prime suspects, were perhaps targeting another Ukrainian military aircraft expected at that time; they even claimed they were in possession of missiles and had shot down a military aircraft.

This >ghastly tragedy could not have come at a worse time for Malaysian Airlines. Hardly four months ago, one of its aircraft went missing while on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Even debris has not been found and there is no clue on what happened to it. The fallout of the war in Ukraine, in which Russia has played a controversial role, has now become an even bigger international issue with the shooting down of this aircraft. Some countries have already called for the United Nations to play a more decisive role in ending this conflict and also taking charge of the investigation. There were a couple of other aircraft quite close to the site where the Malaysian aircraft was shot down. An Air India >aircraft carrying Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a diversion to avoid this zone. >Tragedies such as this only revive the demand for international aviation organisations to take a more active and dynamic role in tracking or monitoring flights in the interests of the safety of passengers. Airlines will have to accept such a monitoring mechanism sooner rather than later. The Ukrainian authorities have already begun a probe and have taken note of some Twitter posts purportedly put out by the separatists who they say are to blame. The immediate need is to order a full-fledged international >investigation into this tragedy, as demanded by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, perhaps headed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

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