Malaysian Airlines Flight 'Shot Down' Over Ukraine

Malaysian Airlines Flight 'Shot Down' Over Ukraine

The shocking news hit the world like a thunderbolt that a passenger jet was apparently "shot down" in Ukraine.

Mere minutes later, we were already seeing the first images of the downed jetliner. The source? Social media.

Video of smoke rising from the remote crash site near the Russian border was posted on YouTube. Through the thick black smoke cloud, debris could be seen raining down. One video also posted on YouTube claims to show the moment the plane hit the ground.

It didn't take long for photos of the wreckage to pop up on Twitter, including a section of fuselage, even victims' passports. Some Malaysian, some European. All taken by locals with their cell phones, unfiltered, uncensored, real-time reporting from Ukranian citizens.

Social media expert Peter Shankman told INSIDE EDITION, "To be able to share information in real time as it happens is very beneficial. The world does want to know. You don't have to wait until the 11 o-clock news. You don't have to wait for tomorrow's newspapers."

The crash happened in a volatile part of the world, on the border between Russia and Ukraine.

This is not the first commercial airliner to be shot down. In 1983, Korean Air Flight 007 was blown out of the sky by a Russian fighter jet, killing 269 people.

In a striking coincidence, Thursday's crash in Ukraine comes 18 years to the day of the crash of TWA Flight 800 over Long Island, New York.

Flight 800 exploded in mid-air, killing all 230 souls on board.

Heidi Snow's fiance, Michel Breistroff died in the crash. Snow told INSIDE EDITION, "This is just another difficult time for all of us who have been through this before, as we feel like we're walking in their shoes."

Malaysian Flight 17 was enroute from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 295 people on board. It was just three hours into the flight when disaster struck.