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Malaysian transportation minister: Flight 17 took a 'safe route'

Despite questions over why Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was above Ukraine, Malaysia's transportation minister said the plane took an "approved" and "safe" route.

At a press conference Friday, Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai denied suspicion that Malaysia Airlines had ignored security warnings. His announcement came amid accusations that the plane had taken a shortcut over conflict zones to save time and fuel.

"This was an approved route, and approved routes are safe routes," Lai said. He emphasized that 15 out of 16 airlines in the Asia-Pacific region fly over Ukraine.

Lai denied that the Flight 17 pilots sent ground controllers a mayday call prior to its crash in Ukraine. Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak also denied Friday that the plane made a distress call.

"This is a tragic day in what has already been a tragic year for Malaysia," Najib said.