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Dyer: PS752 shootdown a human error driven by paranoid politics

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One of the main causes of death for airline passengers in recent decades is being shot down by somebody’s military. Not the very biggest, of course: accidents account for nine-tenths of all deaths in civilian airline crashes, and terrorist attacks and hijackings cause most of the rest. But a solid 2.5 per cent of the deaths are due to trigger-happy people in military uniforms.

The statistics are pretty reliable for so-called “major incidents” (more than 50 deaths): 1,379 airline passengers killed in civilian planes shot down because they were off course or simply misidentified, out of a total of 57,767 deaths in 594 crashes since the first “high fatality” crash in 1923.

The first was an El Al plane that strayed into Bulgarian airspace in 1955, the second an off-course Libyan airliner shot down by Israel over the Sinai Peninsula in 1973. The last of the military shootdowns in which actual fighters were involved was an off-track Korean Air Lines jumbo jet shot down by a Soviet interceptor in 1983. All 269 passengers and crew were killed.

Since then, the killing has been done by surface-to-air missiles, with no visual identification. The first of these was in 1988, when the US Navy cruiser Vincennes, operating illegally........

© The London Free Press