Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles says it’s believed a school teacher and a couple from Palmerston were aboard doomed flight MH17.

A remote community teacher is one of three suspected Northern Territory victims of the Malaysia Airlines disaster.

All 298 people on flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur have been reported dead, including 28 Australians, after it was shot down in a surface-to-air missile attack while flying over Ukraine on Thursday.

“Indications are that a teacher who works in a remote community was killed, as was a public servant and her husband who were Palmerston residents,” Chief Minister Adam Giles said in a statement on Friday.

“This is a truly reprehensible and unspeakable criminal act and on behalf of all Territorians, I wish to express my deep condolences and sympathy to all the families and friends of the victims.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had the primary responsibility of notifying the families of the victims, with the assistance where needed of the NT Police, he said.

Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for the attack, and Kiev has released recordings of what it says are pro-Russian separatists discussing their responsibility for the attack.

“While it is too soon to speculate as to who is responsible for this heinous act, it is now essential that the truth be established as soon as possible, and those responsible are brought to justice,” Mr Giles said.

The incident was the highest Australian death toll overseas since the Bali bombings, he said, and many Territorians would be affected by the deaths.

The NT government would provide counselling and support for family, friends and work colleagues of the victims.

“This is a sad and sorry day for our country and for all nations affected,” Mr Giles said.