Dozens of bodies were scattered around the smouldering wreckage of a passenger jet that crashed in a field in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, a Reuters reporter said.
An emergency services rescue worker said at least 100 bodies had so far been found at the scene, near the village of Grabovo, and that debris from the wreckage was spread across an area up to about 15km in diameter.
Photo shows Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 taking off from Schiphol Airport in Schiphol, the Netherlands, on Thursday. (AFP Photo)
Broken pieces of the wings were marked with blue and red paint - the same colours as the emblem of the Malaysian airline which lost track of a Boeing 777 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that was carrying almost 300 people.
"I was working in the field on my tractor when I heard the sound of a plane and then a bang and shots. Then I saw the plane hit the ground and break in two. There was thick black smoke," said a witness, who gave his name only as Vladimir.
A man works at putting out a fire at the plane crash site in the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region. (Reuters Photo)
A separatist rebel from nearby Krasnyi Luch who gave his name only as Sergei said: "From my balcony I saw a plane begin to descend from a great height and then heard two explosions."
He denied the rebels had shot the plane down.
A part of the wreckage of a Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 is seen after it crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region. (Reuters Photo)
"This could happen only if it was a fighter jet or a surface-to-air missile (that shot it down)," he told Reuters, saying the rebels did not have weapons capable of shooting shoot down a plane at such a height.
All 295 people aboard the plane were killed, a Ukrainian interior ministry official said, blaming "terrorists" using a ground-to-air missile.
Ukraine's prime minister called the downing of the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur a "catastrophe".