Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: Amsterdam airport says six Britons were travelling on downed plane
David Cameron said officials across government departments were working to establish what had happened
Thursday 17 July 2014
Six Britons were on board the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 that crashed in Ukraine, an Amsterdam airport official has said.
Of the 295 passengers who died on the aircraft, there were unconfirmed reports that 23 were American citizens and at least 55 Dutch nationals had taken the flight.
The Foreign Office said it was working to identify any British victims of the tragedy. A spokesman added: “We are aware of the reports and are urgently working to establish what has happened.”
Fears that Dutch citizens were heavily represented in the death toll appeared to be confirmed. Dutch travel agency D-Reizen said 25 of its clients were booked on the flight while another firm, WTC, said it had 30 clients on the plane.
David Cameron said officials across government departments were working to establish what had happened. Both he and the Labour leader Ed Miliband expressed their condolences to the families of the victims.
The British Government has also called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the incident.
People walk amongst the debris, at the crash site of a passenger plane in Ukraine (AP)
Mr Cameron said: “I’m shocked and saddened by the Malaysian air disaster. Officials from across Whitehall are meeting to establish the facts.”
Mr Miliband said: “Truly awful news about the Malaysian Airlines flight. My thoughts are with the victims, their families and friends.” Millions of British passengers travel through Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport en route to destinations around the world as a result of its success as an alternative hub to Heathrow.
With airlines operating out of Britain gearing up for the summer holidays and one of the busiest times of the year, Malaysian Airlines has two direct flights a day from Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur. But with operators offering cut-price feeder flights to large European hubs such as Schiphol and Paris, British travellers have long grown used to bypassing Heathrow for intercontinental travel.
Dutch aviation chiefs even launched an advertising campaign to attract British passengers, boasting of more than 100 daily flights from the UK to Schiphol, carrying some seven million passengers a year. The airport had even taken to referring to one of its six runways as “Heathrow’s third runway”.
The apparent shooting down of a commercial flight in what was already one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints prompted one Labour MP to call for Parliament to delay its summer recess, due to begin next week, if it is established that the plane was destroyed by a missile supplied by the Russian government.
The wreckages of the Malaysian airliner (Getty Images)
John Mann, MP for Bassetlaw, said: “295 innocent people have tragically lost their lives and their families will want to know how and why this happened. This is a very troubling development which raises serious issues that Parliament will want to consider. It cannot do this if it is not sitting.”
The destruction of a flight over Ukraine – long established on routes to Asia – caused several airlines to announce that they would no longer overfly the country. Virgin said two of its aircraft would “slightly divert” on journeys from London.
British Airways said none of its aircraft entered Ukrainian airspace apart from a daily service to Kiev.
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