The separatists were quoted by the Russian news agency Interfax as saying that they had found the "black box" flight recorder.

Andrey Tarasenko, a miner who was walking home from work with a friend, said that he saw a white trail go up from the ground, then heard an explosion two seconds later, then saw smoke risking from the ground 10 seconds after that. He said he was about 10 miles away.

"You know how you see a trail from a plane -- it was the same, but it was a missile launched from the ground," he said.

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