Tragedy at 40,000 Feet: The World Grieves Over Flight MH17

Last week, the world reacted in shock and disbelief as reports of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 surfaced. The plane went down over eastern Ukraine on July 17th, and resulted in the loss of all 298 passengers on board, including delegates en route to the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne. Investigators believe that the crash was most likely caused intentionally by a guided missile, which makes the tragedy all the more horrific.

Just one week after the tragic news about Flight MH17 broke, information has surfaced that two more planes have crashed. According to a breaking report from the Huffington Post, “An Air Algerie plane that went missing on Thursday has crashed. The flight with 116 passengers aboard was on its way from Burkina Faso to the Algerian capital when it disappeared from the radar.” Additionally, at least 48 people were killed in another plane crash in Taiwan. Because these multiple tragedies in the span of one week are still so fresh, no news has been released yet about whether the planes went down because of technical failure, or if other forces were at play.

In the wake of both of these grave developments, many people from around the world are recalling a time in which there was far more public hysteria surrounding terrorism and plane hijackings. As International Relations professor Bruce Newsome points out, “Since 2001, passengers have become sensitized to all sorts of diabolical schemes to bring down planes with smuggled explosives. Now they must be sensitized to ground threats as well,” noting that guided missiles have never been so prolific a threat.

These extremist attacks on international airlines are not something that U.S. is taking lightly. Earlier this year, David Petraeus, former CIA Director and chairman of KKR’s Global Institute, warned against the threat of militant groups and guided missiles. “That was always our worst nightmare,” he said of such attacks, “that a civilian airliner would be shot down by [a missile]. Which is why we were so concerned when they moved around,” he says, of U.S. attempts to track these kinds of weapons.

Hopefully, investigators and world leaders will come forward soon with more answers to help grieving families and the public make sense of these tragedies.

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