Plane carrying nearly 300 people shot down over Ukraine

Vancouver, BC, Canada / (CKNW AM) AM980

A Ukrainian man now living in Vancouver has a clear warning for travellers, in the wake of news that an airplane carrying nearly 300 people has been shot down over eastern Ukraine.

Miroslav Petriw says it’s simple: avoid the area.

Officials say Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile. It was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 295 people on board.

The local leader with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress says if he was set to fly in the area, he would check his flight path because a plane being shot down has happened before – and recently.

“The first victim was a Ukrainian transport plane that was flying at a little over 6,000 meters. I mean, we’re talking over 20,000 feet and it was shot down.”

The U.S. have banned all airlines from flying across the Ukraine, while Canada’s foreign affairs department advises against travel to the Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Petriw suspects most other countries will do the same if they haven’t already.

No word yet whether any Canadians were on board flight MH17.

Travel expert Claire Newell says a plane going down is incredibly rare.

“I have never heard it happen before in 21 years of me being in the business. … If I was flying in that area, I would be questioning are you going over that part of the world to get from A to B?”

As Newell suspected, many airlines are announcing their flight paths are being altered to avoid the warzone, which is under a very common path.

Canadian and America governments asked airlines based in their countries to avoid flying over the area months ago.

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