by: Blake Hanson Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Although she has lived throughout the world, Channel 9 editor Yevgeniya Solodovnikova is now focused most on her friends and family who live in Ukraine.
Solodovnikova, who was born in neighboring Georgia, grew up going to Ukraine and later lived there for 11 years before she and her husband moved to the United States.
"Every time I get an [Associated Press] alert or any type of new alert on my phone, my heart kind of skips a beat," said Solodovnikova.
Solodovnikova rushed to call family members shortly after hearing of Thursday's plane crash. Although none of them live near the crash site, many are concerned about ongoing conflict between Ukraine's government and pro-Russia separatists.
She also contacted a woman she once reported alongside in Ukraine named Natalia Stativko, who is now the press secretary of the minister of internal affairs of Ukraine.
Yev translated their conversation for Channel 9.
"No Ukrainian officials have access to the scene," said Stativko. "This particular area where this accident has taken place is under control of separatists and contractors from Russia."
A Malaysia Airlines passenger plane carrying 298 people was shot down over eastern Ukraine on Thursday, Ukrainian officials said, and both the government and the pro-Russia separatists fighting in the region denied any responsibility for downing the aircraft.
U.S. officials said late Thursday that a surface-to-air missile struck the plane.
The Boeing 777-200ER, traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, appeared to have broken up before impact and the burning wreckage -- which included body parts and the belongings of passengers -- was scattered over a wide area.
"This tragedy has changed the world," said Stativko. "It should not leave anyone indifferent."
Solodovnikova said Ukraine has declared Friday a day of mourning.
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