Australia calls Malaysia jet crash 'a terrible tragedy'

18th July 2014, Comments 0 comments

Prime Minister Tony Abbott Friday said the loss of 27 Australians on the Malaysian Airlines plane that crashed in Ukraine was a tragedy and "an unspeakable crime" if it was brought down by a missile.

US officials said they "strongly believe" Flight MH17 was hit over eastern Ukraine by a surface-to-air missile, killing all 298 people on board, although it was unclear who fired weapon.

Dutch authorities said 27 Australians were among the dead.

"This is a terrible tragedy for them, their loved ones, their families," Abbott told ABC radio.

"My deepest, deepest condolences to everyone connected with people on this flight."

The plane was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed in rebel-held eastern Ukraine near the Russian border.

Abbott said Australian officials were talking to the Dutch and Malaysian authorities to find out more and arrangements were being made to send officials to the Ukrainian capital Kiev.

"We can assure families that at the highest levels of government we feel for them, we grieve with them, we pray for them," he said, adding that he had no confirmation yet of what exactly happened.

"If it does turn out that this aircraft was brought down by a surface to air missile there is no doubt this would be ... an unspeakable crime and the perpetrators should swiftly be brought to justice," he said.

© 2014 AFP

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