A foreign conflict has arrived on our shores

THE families of 28 Australians expecting to greet their loved ones returning from Europe are not alone in their mourning today.

This is a tragedy that has brought a foreign conflict to our shores and has touched everyone who woke to the news yesterday morning.

Gympie real estate agent Mel Adams has lost her best friend, Helena Sidelik from Burleigh Heads, who was due to be her chief bridesmaid at her wedding in October.

Dr Roger Guard and his wife Jill, both Toowoomba health professionals, have also been confirmed dead as have two retirees Howard and Susan Horder, who have strong links to the Sunshine Coast.

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They are among the nine Queenslanders, the other four are from Indooroopilly in Brisbane, who lost their lives when Russian-backed rebels shot down the plane on-route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

In a cruel coincidence, the Biloela family who lost son Rodney Burrows and daughter-in-law Mary in the Malaysia Airlines flight 370 tragedy had relatives on the downed flight MH17.

The Melbourne couple are related to the Burrows family through marriage.

Other Australian victims include nine from Victoria, seven from Western Australia and one each from New South Wales and the ACT.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he would do everything to support the victims' families in this "sad and bitter time because that is the Australian way".

"These were innocent people going about their lives and they have been wantonly killed by Russian-backed rebels ... possibly using Russian-supplied equipment," he said.

"I take the dimmest possible view of this.

"I expect the international community to take appropriate steps to ensure this kind of thing never happens again."

Mr Abbott said next of kin and victims' families would be offered counselling and bodies will be repatriated to Australia as quickly as possible.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said what occurred in the skies above Ukraine was more than shocking.

"It is debilitating, bewildering," he said.

"This is a violation of the rules of civilisation. It is a tyrannical, wild act.

"This horrific situation can seem far removed from our daily lives but there is no question this conflict in this disputed part of the Ukraine has now reached Australia.

"Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, neighbours, colleagues, classmates and teammates," he said of the victims.

"Amongst them, some of the world's leading aids experts, the cost of this will be felt in many parts of the world."

The flight that claimed the lives of 298 people - including 15 crew and two infants - is one of the most popular between Amsterdam and Melbourne and Sydney.


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