Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 shot down in Ukraine near border with Russia

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A Malaysia Airlines plane en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur has crashed in separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine, after being brought down by a missile.

27 Australians are confirmed to have been on board when it crashed.

The Courier is attempting to seek information about the identity of those who are on board.

Bodies and burning wreckage were scattered over the countryside near Donetsk. On board the flight were 280 passengers and 15 crew. There are no known survivors.

Malaysian Minister for Defense vowing to bring those responsible to justice:

A breakdown of the nationalities of those on board is as follows:

  • 27 Australians
  • 154 Dutch
  • 45 Malaysians
  • 9 British
  • 12 Indonesians
  • 4 Belgian
  • 4 German
  • 3 Filipino
  • 1 Canadian
  • 41 unaccounted for

Some eyewitnesses reported the plane had exploded in the air before falling to the ground. US intelligence officials confirmed to American media that a surface-to-air missile brought down the airline. However, which side used the missile was less clear, officials said.

An image of flights all over Europe largely avoiding Ukrainian airspace this morning. Picture: Flight Radar

An image of flights all over Europe largely avoiding Ukrainian airspace this morning. Picture: Flight Radar

Ukraine officials and anti-Russian activists claimed it was shot down by a surface-to-air missile launched by pro-Russian separatists, with one media report blaming Russian-backed Cossack militants. Reports in Russian media pointed to the Ukrainian military.

Freelance journalist Noah Sneider, at the crash site, reported: "Locals say everything exploded in the air, fell in pieces, both bodies and plane itself. People thought they were being bombed."

After the crash other airlines were rerouting flights around the conflict area in eastern Ukraine, where the country has been battling a violent uprising.

DFAT number for people with friends and family overseas 1300 555 135.

Malaysia Airlines, still reeling from the mysterious loss of another Boeing 777 flight in March, confirmed that Ukrainian air traffic control lost contact with flight MH17 at 1415 (GMT), approximately 50km from the Russia-Ukraine border.

Flight MH17 operated on a Boeing 777 left Amsterdam at 12.15pm (Amsterdam local time) and was estimated to arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 6.10 am (Malaysia local time) the next day.

Online videos showed thick plumes of smoke coming from the crash site.