The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed that at least 27 Australians were on board the Malaysia Airlines flight that crashed in eastern Ukraine.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott told 3AW this morning that the national security committee will meet today to discuss implications of the tragedy, calling it “a grim day for the world”.
Reports suggest that Mr Abbott also told the radio station that the tragedy was only happening because Russia wants to “stir up trouble”.
“It is an horrific act, and everyone around the world should be filled with revulsion.”
“If this was a crime a crime rather than an accident, it’s an unspeakable crime and the perpetrators must be brought to justice,” Mr Abbott told reporters Friday morning.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop spoke to press earlier this morning, confirming that 27 Australians were on board the plane, but the death toll may increase as investigations develop.
“The nationalities of all those on board is not yet known so the final number may be higher,” Ms Bishop said.
“Are thoughts and prayers are with families and friends of those on board.”
“This is a terrible tragedy. We don’t know the cause but there is speculation that the plane was shot down. If that is the case it was an unspeakable crime.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says it’s seeking confirmation from authorities and has set up a hotline – 1300 555 135 – for relatives to call.
According to Ms Bishop, the hotline had already received 170 calls by 9am.
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 finding.
Qantas has confirmed it didn’t have any code share passengers aboard flight MH17, which was carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed in rebel-held east Ukraine in what has been called a “terrorist” attack.
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.
Federal government frontbencher Christopher Pyne said the fate of MH17 appeared to be a “random event” amid the ongoing separatist dispute in the Ukraine.
“There’s no doubt the plane was shot out of the sky,” he told Nine Network.