A separatist leader claimed on social media his men had shot down an aircraft in eastern Ukraine shortly before reports emerged of a passenger plane crashing in the area, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty reports.
Igor Girkin wrote on Russia's largest social media site this afternoon: "In the vicinity of Torez, we just downed a plane, an AN-26 [a transport plane used by Ukrainian military].
"It is lying somewhere in the Progress Mine. We have issued warnings not to fly in our airspace. We have video confirming. The bird fell on a waste heap. Residential areas were not hit. Civilians were not injured."
The post also included two videos that showed black smoke billowing in the distance.
Thousands of online users have taken to social media to call for the victims of the Malaysian airliner crash to be returned to loved ones.
United States intelligence officials admitted that they do not know who fired the surface-to-air missile that downed flight MH17.
Warning this article contains images that some may find distressing