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Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: How does it compare with previous plane disasters?

  • @indyvoices

The deaths of 295 people aboard Flight MH17 is one of the worst post-war civilian airline incidents involving  a plane brought down by a missile attack, gunfire or terrorist-related sabotage.

1954. Cathay Pacific VR-HEU

A Douglas DC-4 airline operated by Cathay Pacific, flying between Bangkok and Hong Kong was shot down by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force. Ten people on board were killed.

1955. El Al Flight 402

A Lockheed L-049 Constellation on an international flight from Vienna to Tel Aviv via Istanbul, was shot down  in Bulgarian airspace by two MiG-15 jets. Seven crew and 51 passengers were killed.

1973. Libyan Airlines Flight 114

A Boeing 727 scheduled flight from Tripoli via Bengazi to Cairo entered Israeli airspace. It was intercepted by two Israeli Phantom jet fighters, refused to land, and was shot down. Only 5 survived of the 113 on board.

1978. Korean Air flight 902

Soviet Sukhoi fighters shot down a Korean civil airliner near Murmansk after it violated Soviet airspace and failed to respond to fighter jets. Remarkably nearly all the passengers on board survived an emergency landing on a frozen lake. Two people were killed.

1978. Air Rhodesia Flight RH 825 and Flight RH827

The Zimbabwe People’s Liberation Army (Zipra) shot down two planes in 1978, both incidents involved ground-launched Stela missiles. The two flights were on the same route – Kariba to Salisbury (now called Harare). 10 survivors were murdered at one of the crash sites, in the other none of the 59 passengers and crew survived.

1983. Korean Air Flight 007

The Korean Boeing 727 was shot down by Soviet fighters near Sakhalin island. The deviation was caused by pilot error in configuring where the plane was. A US congressman, Larry McDonald was one of the 269 passengers killed. There were no survivors.

1988. Iran Air Flight 655

Near the end of the Iran-Iraq war, the  Airbus A300 commercial flight was operating between Iran and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The USS Vincennes, a battle cruiser, fired a surface-to-air missile at flight 655. All 290 passengers and crew were killed. The Vincennes was in Iranian waters, and the US government said the ship believed it was under attack from Iran fighter


The later attack on Pan Am 103 blown out of the skies above Lockerbie, is regarded as potential retaliation for the attack on flight 655.