A Day Of Tumult, Tragedy And Violence In Europe And Middle East

A Malaysia Airlines flight crashed in eastern Ukraine, possibly shot down by a missile. And in Gaza, Israel has launched a ground offensive against Hamas forces.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now, what we know about today's two big stories - the ground invasion that's now underway in the Gaza Strip and the crash of a Malaysia Airlines flight in Ukraine. We'll begin with the downing of the Boeing triple seven. It left Amsterdam at twelve fifteen p.m. local time, and was supposed to arrive at Kuala Lumpur national airport early tomorrow morning. Malaysia Airlines says when it lost contact with flight 17, its last known position was over Ukrainian airspace.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The plane, carrying nearly 300 people, ended up crashing and burning in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border. It appears there are no survivors. The crash site is in an area that's seen battles between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists. U.S. officials confirmed to NPR that they believe the airliner was shot down. Both Russia and Ukraine are denying any responsibility. Neither the U.S. government nor the airline has confirmed whether Americans were on board. A European CEO of Malaysia Airlines says the majority of passengers were Dutch nationals.

SIEGEL: The other major story unfolding today is the Israeli ground offensive launched into to Gaza. The Israeli government says it is targeting tunnels under the territory's border with Israel. The troops entered the Gaza Strip after more than a week of airstrikes between Israel and Hamas. Egypt has been trying to negotiate a cease-fire. Attacks had stopped for a brief time today to allow people in Gaza to go out for food and other supplies.

CORNISH: Witnesses along the border describe heavy shelling. Thousands of Israeli soldiers have been gathering on the border with Gaza over the last several days, waiting for the order to go in. The last invasion by Israel happened in 2009. That ground operation came toward the end of the three-week military campaign.

SIEGEL: NPR News is following developments closely. Stay tuned for updates and for further in-depth coverage on tomorrow's Morning Edition.

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