5.26PM: THERE are reports this evening that a Gold Coast woman was on board Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 when it was shot out of the sky over eastern Ukraine.
It’s understood the Burleigh woman, believed to be in her late 50s, was travelling home from a friend’s wedding in Amsterdam.
The woman is one of nine Queenslanders confirmed to be on board the plane at the time it was blown out of the sky.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
In total, 28 Australians were among the 298 passengers and crew who were killed in the tragedy.
4:05PM: Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has confirmed 28 Australians are now known to have died in the crash of MH17 in Ukraine.
Ms Bishop has just come out of a meeting with the Russian ambassador to Australia, Vladimir Morozov, in Sydney, who denied pro-Russian separatists were involved in the grounding of the plane.
3:45pm: The Australian flag will be flown at half-mast tomorrow on government buildings in honour of the Australians who lost their lives in the MH17 crash in Ukraine.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott released the following statement a short time ago:
“I have instructed that the Australian National Flag be flown at half-mast tomorrow on all Australian Government establishments, here and overseas, as a mark of respect to the Australians who have lost their lives in the tragic grounding of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.
“The Governor-General and I will attend a church service at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney on Sunday as we stand together as a nation at this difficult time.
“A National Commemorative Service will be held at a later time when the families of those who have lost their lives have had time to comprehend this horrific event.
“At this time, there will be a National Day of Mourning and flags will be flown at half-mast once more.”
2:20pm: THE identities of the Australian victims on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 are slowly being released.
[signoff icon=”icon-pin”]Here is the state-by-state breakdown of the Australians on board so far:
- Queensland – 9
- Victoria – 9
- WA – 7
- ACT – 1
- NSW – 1[/signoff]
12:30pm: QUEENSLAND Premier Campbell Newman has said that 9 Queenslanders are believed to have been on board Flight MH17 which was shot down over Ukraine.
He warned the number could go higher, with the nationalities of all 298 victims on the plane not yet known.
11:25am: AUSTRALIAN officials are reportedly trying to access the site in Ukraine where Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 went down.
Talking to the media in Brisbane earlier, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said Australian officials were seeking permission to access the crash site and are demanding a full, independent international inquiry into the disaster.
The federal government is holding an emergency meeting of the National Security Committee of cabinet to discuss its response to the crash, with 27 Australians killed in the tragedy.
Australian diplomats are on route to the Ukrainian capital of Kiev to provide assistance to families of those killed.
10:25am: MALAYSIA Airlines has released an updated statement, with a list of the nationalities of those on board.
“Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was on a scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur went down in eastern Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines confirms that the aircraft did not make a distress call,” the statement read.
“The usual flight route was earlier declared safe by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. International Air Transportation Association has stated that the airspace the aircraft was traversing was not subject to restrictions.
“As opposed to the earlier statement, the flight was carrying a total number of 298 people – comprising 283 passengers including three infants of various nationalities and 15 crew of Malaysian nationality. Some of the nationalities of the passengers are yet to be determined.
[signoff icon=”icon-pin”]List of number of passengers and crew according to nationality are as follows:-
Netherlands – 154
Malaysia – 43 (including 15 crew & 2 infants)
Australia – 27
Indonesia – 12 (including 1 infant)
United Kingdom – 9
Germany – 4
Belgium – 4
Philippines – 3
Canada – 1
Unverified – 41
Total – 298[/signoff]
“With immediate effect, all European flights operated by Malaysia Airlines will be taking alternative routes avoiding the usual route.
“Malaysia Airlines is in the process of notifying the next-of-kin of the passengers and crew.
“Our focus now is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support to provide all possible care to the next-of-kin. Malaysia Airlines is deploying its “Go Team” to Amsterdam with a group of caregivers and volunteers to assist the family members of the passengers.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members.
“Families of passengers and crew may contact +603 7884 1234 (Malaysia) or +31703487770 (Netherlands).”
DFAT has also set up a hotline for relatives to call, + 61 2 6261 3305 from overseas; 1300 555 135 within Australia
10:15am: A VIDEO showing debris falling from the sky following the crash of MH17, has appeared on youtube.
9:50am: AUSTRALIAN Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has confirmed 27 Australians were on board flight MH17, which was shot down over Ukraine.
She spoke to the media this morning in Brisbane.
“I can confirm that 27 of the passengers on that flight were Australian nationals and we’ve been able to independently verify that from the manifest and from passports,” she said.
“The nationalities of all those on board is not yet known so the final number may be higher.”
Ms Bishop said the flight was due to connect to Australia, which is why so many Australians were on board.
[signoff icon=”icon-pin”]MH17 was due to connect to a number of flights when it landed in Kuala Lumper:
Melbourne: (MH17/ MH129)
There’s strong indications the plane was shot down by a surface to air missile.
9:00am: DUTCH authorities have confirmed 27 Australians were on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, which is believed to have been shot down over the Ukraine this morning.
Flight MH17 was carrying 298 passengers and crew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed in rebel-held east Ukraine.
Among the 27 Australians on board, were 154 Dutch, 23 Malaysian, 11 Indonesian, 6 from the UK, 4 German, 4 Belgium, 3 Filipinos, and 1 Canadian. The nationalities of 47 others on board are still unknown.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has told media the Government has only confirmed 23 Australians were on board at this stage.
Questions are still been asked as to how the plane came down, with many suspecting it may have been shot down by missiles.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko seems to side with that opinion but pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claim the plane had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet.
Earlier, video footage showed people scouring through the wreckage and finding a number of passports, including one Australian passport.
The Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak, expressed his deepest regret and sympathised with the families of those involved.
“This is a tragic day in what has already been a tragic year for Malaysia. As we work to understand what happened, our thoughts and prayers are with family and friends of those on board the flight. I cannot imagine what they must be going through at this painful time,” he said in at a press conference a short time ago.
Ukrainian officials said the plane came down near the town of Shaktarsk, in the Donetsk region.
The plane most likely broke apart before hitting the ground, as the wreckage is scattered over a wide area.
There’s some confusion as to who has access to the area, with the region still in the midst of a battle between Russian forces.
There are some reports the black box may have been taken by rebel forces but that remains unconfirmed at this point.
The crash comes just four months after Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, another Boeing 777, went missing carrying more than 200 people.