Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Kiwi confirmed on board
By 3 News online staff
At least one New Zealander was on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 when it crashed in Ukraine this morning, Foreign Minister Murray McCully has confirmed.
At a briefing in Auckland this afternoon, Mr McCully said the woman is a New Zealand citizen who had been living in Australia. She was travelling with her husband, who is a Dutch national.
A British woman who was a long-term New Zealand resident was also on board the flight.
"The crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is obviously a terrible tragedy," he said. "Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those who have perished in the crash."
Families of both victims are being provided with consulate assistance, Mr McCully said.
"They have requested privacy and I am not able to release further details at this stage."
Mr McCully was unable to rule out whether more Kiwis were on board.
More than 295 people on board the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur died when it was reportedly shot down.
Malaysia Airlines said it had "lost contact" with flight MH17, which Ukrainian officials said came down near the town of Shaktarsk, in the Donetsk region.
Most of the passengers on board were Dutch, along with 27 Australians, 23 Malaysians, 11 Indonesians, six people from the UK, four Germans, four from Belgium, three from the Philippines and one Canadian. The nationalities of the remaining passengers have not yet been confirmed.
"A number of countries have lost citizens in this event, including our closest neighbour Australia, who have suffered considerable losses," Mr McCully said.
"It is hard to find words to describe people who would carry out such a despicable attack."
Mr McCully said New Zealand stands with other affected countries in calling for a a full an independent invesitgation into the circumstances of the crash, the identities of those who carried it out and those who provided them with the means to carry out.
He will meet with Russian officials this afternoon.
- Any New Zealanders who believe they had family or friends on MH17 can contact MFAT +64 4 439 8000.
US intelligence officials say the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile but it was unclear who fired the weapon, AFP reports.
Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko said the jet may have been shot down by rebels.
Other airlines have since announced they are avoiding Ukraine's air space.
The disaster comes just four months after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, with 239 people aboard, disappeared without a trace after taking off from Kuala Lumpur.
Kiwi chef's husband posts of near miss
The husband of Kiwi chef Chelsea Winter was handed a boarding pass for an overbooked flight before Malaysia Airlines MH17 just minutes before the gate closed.
In a post to his Facebook page, sailor Mike Bullot explained how he and 20 to 30 other people had been waiting at the gate after being told they couldn't board the MH17 flight bound for Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam yesterday.
Had a seat not become available, Mr Bullot would have been put on today’s MH17 flight, which crashed in the Ukraine this morning.
He was handed a boarding pass a few minutes before the gate closed.
"Too many what-ifs to think about right now," he wrote.
"Wondering how many of those behind me in line were pushed back a day."
Ms Winter tweeted her husband was "lucky he made it".
More on MH17 crash:
- Video shows moment of impact
- Who are the victims of MH17?
- Passengers' links to NZ
- What we know so far