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MOSCOW — A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 295 people aboard crashed in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border on Thursday, and Ukrainian officials said it may have been shot down, possibly by a Russian-made antiaircraft system.
Ukraine’s president, Petro O. Poroshenko, said in a statement that he was calling for an immediate investigation of the crash of the plane, which was en route to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from Amsterdam. There were no reported survivors among the 280 passengers and 15 crew members.
A regional airline official said the plane had been flying at about 33,000 feet when radar lost track of it. Eastern Ukraine has been roiled for months by a violent pro-Russian separatist uprising in which a number of military aircraft have been downed. But this would be the first commercial airline disaster to result from the hostilities.
Malaysia Airlines, still reeling from the mysterious loss of another Boeing 777 flight in March, said it had lost contact with the flight, MH17, over Ukraine but offered no further details immediately. Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak, said in a Twitter post that he was “shocked by reports that an MH plane crashed. We are launching an immediate investigation.”
President Obama and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia spoke by telephone, and Mr. Putin raised the issue of the reports of the downed plane, White House officials said. Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said Mr. Obama had been briefed about the plane crash.
By early evening, images surfaced online that purported to show debris in the green fields of eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainskaya Pravda newspaper published on its website a photograph posted earlier to a social networking site showing a fragment of a passenger airplane’s fuselage, painted in the red and blue of Malaysia Airlines, in a grassy field. Lifenews, a Russian online television site, put up an image of blackened, smoking wreckage.
Andrei Purgin, deputy prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, the insurgent group in eastern Ukraine, denied in a telephone interview that the rebels had anything to do with the loss of the passenger jet. He said that the rebels had shot down Ukrainian planes before but that their antiaircraft weapons could reach only to around 4,000 meters, far below the cruising level of passenger jets.
“We don’t have the technical ability to hit a plane at that height,” he said. He said the plane apparently came down in an area of Ukrainian military operations and that it was not out of the question that the Ukrainians themselves shot it down.
“Remember the Black Sea plane diaster,” he said, referring to the 2001 crash of a passenger jet bound for Israel that the Ukrainians shot down by accident during a military training exercise.
Anton Geraschenko, an adviser at the Ukraine Interior Ministry, said on his Facebook page that the Malaysia Airlines plane had been brought down by a Russian-made Buk, or Beech, antiaircraft system. Russian missile systems are named for trees.
A reference book published by Rosoboronexport, the Russian state weapons export monopoly, describes the Buk antiaircraft missile system as designed to target both low- and high-flying aircraft, to a maximum height of 72,000 feet.
Mr. Geraschenko wrote that earlier Thursday people in eastern Ukraine supporting the central government had reported seeing a Buk system moved from the town of Torez toward the town of Snezhnoye.
A commander of a rebel unit in Donetsk, said, “We could have shot down three planes over Donetsk yesterday, but we didn’t because they could have been civilians.” He said the rebel forces did not have the BUK system.
An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of Ukraine’s president. He is Petro O. Poroshenko, not Poroschenko.
An earlier version of this article misstated the title of Najib Razak. He is the prime minister, not president, of Malaysia.
Neil MacFarquhar and David M. Herszenhorn reported from Moscow, and Rick Gladstone from New York. Reporting was contributed by Sabrina Tavernise and Noah Sneider from Donetsk, Ukraine, Andrew E. Kramer from Moscow, and Michael D. Shear from Washington.