Local man plans to visit Ukraine next week despite MH17 tragedy

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Updated: 7/17 5:44 pm

ALBANY, N.Y. – The Ukranian government and pro-Russia separatists have denied any involvement in a passenger plane carrying 295 people being shot down Thursday.

Malaysia Airlines confirmed on social media that it lost contact with flight MH17 near the Russia-Ukraine border. The Boeing 777 left from Amsterdam, and was set to arrive in Kaula Lumpur International Airport. The flight carried 280 passengers and 15 crew members.

The Associated Press says one of their journalists counted at least 22 bodies at the crash site and that the burning wreckage was scattered over a large area.

One local man, who returned from Ukraine's capital of Kiev to the Capital Region in January due to the protests, has plans to return to the country next week. John Fil of Troy says he’s watching Ukranian stations and talking with family there, saying he has to help.

Fil says he watched video today showing the aftermath of Malaysian Airline flight MH17 when it went down in Eastern Ukraine near the Russian border. A native Ukrainian, he says he had planned on going back on Tuesday. He believes the unrest will only continue to get worse, but he still plans to take his trip.

"I'll probably check with the U.S. Embassy, what they say, because they usually give you some guidance if it's safe or not,” he said. “When you're there, you feel like you want to help. I feel like I am sitting here and some people are dying, so I go to help them.”

Fil believes Russia is responsible for the incident. According to reports from Ukraine’s prime ministry Thursday as well as other information, Senator Charles Schumer said early indications lead to that conclusion.

“Obviously, this is a huge tragedy, and it struck twice now with Malaysian Air,” he said. “The early indications are, and this is not certain, that it was shot down by a ground-to-air missile. A sophisticated missile – and that would be preliminary indication and nothing is conclusive yet – would indicate that it might have been the Russians who did that. We’ll have to check and see the facts.”

Fil said he hopes the tragedy sends awareness to everyone.

“One hope is Western Europe and the United States would realize that the danger is not only for Ukraine, maybe for the whole world,” he said.

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