"Russian-backed rebels" were behind the shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine, Australian prime minister Tony Abbott has said.
Twenty-seven Australians are among the 298 people on board the flight which was allegedly shot down over eastern Ukraine.
"This is a grim day for our country and it's a grim day for our world. Malaysian airlines MH17 has been shot down over the eastern Ukraine, it seems by Russian-backed rebels," he said.
A number of researchers travelling to an international Aids conference in Melbourne are believed to be among those killed.
Both the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists have accused each other of taking down the aircraft.
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.
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