ON THIS DAY    1 September      Graphics version >>   BBC News >>
Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
1983: Korean airliner 'shot down'

The United States has accused the USSR of shooting down a civilian airliner which is missing off Russia's eastern coast.

All 269 people on board the Korean Airlines flight KAL 007 are presumed dead.

Moscow has so far only admitted to an incident with an "unidentified aircraft" in Soviet airspace.

The Boeing 747 was flying from the USA to Seoul via Anchorage. It is believed to have strayed north of its scheduled course towards the Soviet island of Sakhalin.


"At least eight Soviet fighters reacted at one time or other to the airliner"

US Secretary of State George Shultz

The US Secretary of State, George Shultz, demanded a full explanation from Moscow. He told reporters he was confident the USSR was to blame.

"At least eight Soviet fighters reacted at one time or other to the airliner," he said.

Japanese monitors said they heard a Soviet pilot telling his ground controllers that he had taken aim at the plane and had fired. The aircraft disappeared from radar screens 12 minutes later.

The military complex near Sakhalin and the naval base at the port of Vladivostok are in one of Russia's strategically most sensitive areas.

Five years ago the Russians shot down a Korean airliner after it changed its course and flew over the top secret base at Murmansk.

In Context
The next day the Russians admitted they had shot the Korean jet down.

But they said it was flying in Soviet airspace without navigation lights and had not responded to communication.

Moscow also said that the plane did not contact Russian air traffic controllers.

A later investigation by the International Civil Aviation Organization concluded that an error in the plane's navigation equipment had caused it to fly off course.

The deviation was not noticed by the crew of the jet.

It was too dark for Russian fighters planes to be able to identify the aircraft as civilian, and they fired on it without warning.


Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
^^ Back to top |