5 deadliest attacks on commercial airliners

An Emergencies Ministry member walks at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region. Photo by Reuters
An Emergencies Ministry member walks at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region. Photo by Reuters

A Malaysian airliner has been brought down over eastern Ukraine, killing all 295 people aboard and sharply raising the stakes in a conflict between Kiev and pro-Moscow rebels in which Russia and the West back opposing sides.

If confirmed as having been downed by missile fire, the attack will be the deadliest incident of a commercial passenger plane being shot down since the 1960s.

Since 1967 more than 700 people have been killed in 19 separate incidents involving live-fire attacks, according to UK-based aviation consultancy Flightglobal Ascend which keeps a detailed database of aircraft accidents.

The most recent attack was in January 1999 when a Lockheed Hercules plane operated by TransAfrik was reportedly shot down near Bailundo in Angola, killing all nine passengers and crew on board.

Following is a list of the five deadliest incidents:

IRAN AIR, 1988

En route from Bandar Abbas to Dubai, Iran Air flight 655 was shot down by a U.S. warship off the coast of Iran, killing all 290 onboard. The U.S. Navy said it had mistaken the Airbus A300 for a hostile Iranian Air Force F-14 fighter jet.

KOREAN AIR, 1983

A Korean Air Boeing 747 was intercepted and forced down by Soviet fighters after straying into Soviet airspace on a flight from Anchorage, Alaska, to Seoul in South Korea. All 289 passengers and crew were killed.

LIBYAN AIRLINES, 1973

After being intercepted and fired upon by the Israeli Air Force, a Libyan Airlines Boeing 727 was destroyed during an attempted forced landing. The flight had strayed into Israeli airspace due to a navigation error and crashed in the Sinai Desert, 150km north east of Cairo, killing 106 of the 113 on board.

AIR GEORGIA, 1993

On its final approach to land, a Tupolev Tu-154 plane operated by Air Georgia was reportedly shot down by a heat-seeking missile in the disputed Georgian territory of Abkhazia.

The aircraft crashed onto the runway and caught fire, killing 108 of the 132 passengers and crew on board. The flight was believed to have been chartered by the Georgian Defence Ministry to transport soldiers to assist in fighting around the Abkhazian capital of Sukhumi.

SUDAN AIRWAYS, 1986

Shortly after taking off from Malakal in South Sudan, a Sudan Airways Fokker F-27 was reportedly shot down by the Sudanese "People's Liberation Army", killing all 65 passengers and crew on board.

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