Among those on board the plane which left Amsterdam on route to Kuala Lumpur were 27 Australians and nine Britons, although that number may rise with around 41 passengers’ nationalities still to be determined.

Several news outlets are reporting that the Boeing 777 was shot down near Ukraine’s border with Russia, with both sides in Ukraine’s conflict accusing the other.

In a statement on the Malaysia Airlines website, it said will be taking alternative routes.

The airline added that the aircraft did not make a distress call and had a clean maintenance record.

Ukraine’s president has called the loss of the plane an “act of terrorism”, while US President Barack Obama, who spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the crash, said it was a “terrible tragedy”.

Among the dead are Victorian couple Albert and Marie Rizk. The Herald Sun reports that the couple, from Sunbury, missed an earlier flight and ended up on the doomed flight.

Qantas, Korean Air and Asiana all stopped flying over eastern Ukraine when Russian troops moved into Crimea because of safety concerns. 

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