Twenty-eight Australians died last night when a Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 298 people was shot down over Ukraine.
There were no survivors of Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. A surface-to-air missile fired by pro-Russian militia in eastern Ukraine was reported to have struck the aircraft. Both the Ukraine Government and rebel spokesmen have denied responsibility. The incident is likely to dramatically intensify the crisis over Ukraine’s future alignment. Read the full report here.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament “we owe it to the dead” to establish the facts of the tragedy and has called for a full and immediate investigation. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten expressed his support, saying international events of this scale required politicians to put aside partisan issues. Addressing the media this morning, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop echoed his demand for an investigation. If speculation that a pro-Russian missile took down the flight was true, she said, it was an “unspeakable crime”.
Politicians and citizens alike took to social media to express outrage.
The nation is in mourning as the names of the Australian victims are being released. Among the dead are 27-year-old Melbourne University student, Elaine Teoh, and Perth management consultant Nick Norris, who may have been travelling with his grandchildren. It is also believed that a Victorian couple, Albert and Marie Rizk, were aboard the ill-fated flight.
The plane was also carrying some of the world’s leading AIDS experts to a conference in Melbourne. The majority of the victims were from the Netherlands, though more victims have been identified from the UK, Germany, Belgium and Canada. More here.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said anyone with concerns for friends or family can call the hotline on 1300 555 135. – Thea Carley, Newsroom Editor