Posted: 18 July, 2014
There were many Australians on board the Malaysian plane that crashed in eastern Ukraine, Dutch authorities say.
Updated: The revised Australian death toll has risen to 28.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott says there is "strong evidence" a Malaysia Airlines plane that crashed in Ukraine, killing nearly 300 people including at least 23 Australians, was shot down.
Dutch authorities say there were 27 Australians but the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has so far only confirmed there were at least 23.
"This is a terrible tragedy for them, their loved ones, their families," Mr Abbott told ABC radio on Friday.
"My deepest, deepest condolences to everyone connected with people on this flight."
Amsterdam Airport said the passenger list also included 143 Dutch citizens, 20 Malaysians, 11 Indonesians, six from the UK, four from Germany, four from Belgium, three from the Philippines and one from Canada, along with about 50 unidentified passengers.
Some infants were also on board.
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 described as a "terrorist" attack.
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.
International broadcasters are showing footage of what appears to be an Australian passport picked up from the wreckage.
Mr Abbott said Australian officials were talking to the Dutch and Malaysians to find out more and arrangements are also being made to send officials to the Ukrainian capital of Kiev to provide assistance.
"We can assure families that at the highest levels of government we feel for them, we grieve with them, we pray for them," he said.
He says the tragedy is made worse by reports it may be a crime rather than an accident.
"If it does turn out that this aircraft was brought down by a surface to air missile there is no doubt this would be ... an unspeakable crime and the perpetrators should swiftly be brought to justice," he said.
It was put to Mr Abbott that the surface to air missile could have come from only one place - Russia.
"Yes, that's a fair point," he said.
"But let's not leap to conclusions."
Mr Abbott was also asked whether Australia would allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend the G20 summit in Brisbane in November if it turned out there was Russian involvement.
"Let's just wait and see exactly what turns out to have happened here. Let's wait until we have all the facts in," he said.
In a separate interview on the Nine Network, Mr Abbott said there was some "quite strong evidence" the plane was shot down.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says it is seeking to confirm the number of casualties provided by the Dutch. It is also seeking to confirm the identities of the Australians involved.
Qantas said it didn't have any code share passengers aboard flight MH17 and that the carrier didn't have flight routes tracking near or over the area where MH17 went down.
"There is no change to Qantas operations as a result of the Malaysia Airlines incident," Qantas said.
It's the second major aviation event to impact Malaysia Airlines this year.
Four months ago flight MH370 travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared over the Indian Ocean with 227 passengers, including six Australians, and 12 crew.
It still hasn't been found.
People concerned for the welfare of Australian family or friends on MH17 can contact DFAT's emergency centre on 1300 555 135.
NATIONALITIES OF PASSENGERS ON MH17:
- 154 Dutch
- 27 Australians
- 23 Malaysian
- 11 Indonesian
- 6 British
- 4 German
- 4 Belgian
- 3 Filipinos
- 1 Canadian
- Around 50 unidentified
- 15 crew members believed to be Malaysians
Source: Malaysia Airlines vice president Huib Gorter in Amsterdam