A staff member sits behind a closed Malaysia Airlines desk
at Kuala Lumpur International Airport following the downing
of Flight MH17. REUTERS/Olivia Harris
There were 27 Australians on board the Malaysian plane
that crashed in eastern Ukraine, Dutch authorities say.
The confirmation came from Amsterdam Airport after the
Berlin-based DPA agency said there were 27 Australians and
143 Dutch on board.
Other passengers included 20 Malaysians, 11 Indonesians, six
from the UK, four each from France and Germany and one from
Some infants were also onboard.
Officials also said there were passengers from Belgium and
MH17 was carrying 295 people, including 15 crew, from
Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed in rebel-held east
Ukraine in what has been called a "terrorist" attack.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said if the plane was deliberately
brought down then it was an "unspeakable" crime.
"We are profoundly concerned at reports the flight may have
been shot down," he told local television.
"If this is a crime rather than an accident, well it's
The Ukraine area where the plane went down is at the centre
of an ongoing separatist dispute.
Ukraine's government and pro-Russian insurgents have traded
blame for the disaster, with comments attributed to a rebel
commander suggesting his men may have downed MH17 by mistake,
believing it was a Ukrainian army transport plane.
Debris stretched for kilometres in the area near the Russian
border, with the jet's tail marked with the Malaysian
Airlines insignia laying in a corn field, and insurgent
fighters and fire trucks nearby.
"There's no doubt the plane was shot out of the sky," Federal
government frontbencher Christopher Pyne told Nine Network.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade earlier said it
had "grave concerns" that a number of Australian were on
A hotline - 1300 555 135 - has been set up for friends and
family to call for information.
International broadcasters are showing footage of what
appears to be an Australian passport picked up amongst the
wreckage although there is no official confirmation of the
Qantas has confirmed it didn't have any code share passengers
aboard the flight MH17.
A spokesman for Qantas told AAP the airline did not have a
code share with that flight.
"There is no change to Qantas operations as a result of the
Malaysia Airlines incident," Qantas said.
The carrier does not have flight routes tracking near or over
the area where MH17 went down.
In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak said
the world was united in grief over the incident.
He had spoken to his Dutch and Ukrainian counterparts and US
President Barack Obama about setting up an investigation.
They agreed that no one should interfere with the wreckage
zone or remove any debris including the black box.
The Ukrainian president confirmed there will be negotiations
with rebels in the east to establish a humanitarian corridor
to the crash site.
"Authorities believe the plane was shot down but at this
stage however Malaysia is unable to verify the cause of this
tragedy," Mr Najib told reporters.
"No stone will be left unturned."
Mr Najib said if the reports were true the perpetrators
should swiftly be brought to justice.
He confirmed Malaysian authorities did not receive a distress
call from the plane.
"This is a tragic day in what has already been a tragic year
for Malaysia," Mr Najib said a reference to flight M370 which
disappeared in the Indian Ocean in March and has not been
"Today, regardless of nationality, we are all united in