MH17 crash: Flight did not stray into restricted airspace, says Liow

Malaysia's Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai (right).

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH17's flight path was considered a safe route, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai in a press conference, Saturday.

"MH17's flight path was a busy major airway, like a highway in the sky. It followed a route which was set out by the international aviation authorities, approved by Eurocontrol, and used by hundreds of other aircraft," said Liow.

Liow said that officials from Eurocontrol stated that in the two days before the incident, 75 different airlines had flown the same route.

"MH17 flew at an altitude that was set and deemed safe by local air traffic control, and it never strayed into restricted airspace", said Liow.

"The flight and its operators followed the rules. But on the ground, the rules of war were broken.

"In an unacceptable act of aggression, it appears that MH17 was shot down; its passengers and crew killed by a missile," he said.

The Transport Minister also confirmed reports that MH17 initially requested to fly at 35,000 feet but was ordered to fly at 33,000 feet by air traffic control operators due to "other traffic" and that that altitude was deemed safe.

MH17 disappeared from radar screens in eastern Ukraine at around 1415 GMT on Thursday, hours after taking off from Amsterdam's Schiphol airport bound for Kuala Lumpur.

The Boeing 777 is believed to have been shot down 50km from the Ukraine-Russia border.

All 298 passengers and crew on board are believed to have perished.

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