Durban-born pilot on board MH17

Cameron Dalziel’s family confirmed his wife received notification he boarded flight MH17.

People stand on the wreckages of the Malaysian Airliner carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of International Relations and Cooperation on Friday said it received reliable information two South Africans may have been on board the doomed Malaysian airliner shot down in Ukraine.

Officials say the two were not travelling on South African passports.

Department spokesperson Nelson Kgwete said, "We know of two people who have links to South Africa. They were travelling on foreign passports. For the purposes of the accident, they are regarded as citizens of those countries."

Flight MH17 was shot down in eastern Ukraine late on Thursday.

Durban-born Cameron Dalziel was employed at an international helicopter company based in Malaysia.

His family confirmed to Eyewitness News that his wife received notification the 43-year-old boarded the plane.

#MH17 Mourning tragic loss of one of worlds best rescue helicopter pilots, Cameron Dalziel Great man, father, husband

A close friend said he was shocked by the news.

Durban-based helicopter pilot Chris Berlyn says he met Dalziel in the late 1990s.

"He was based in Malaysia and was living in a town called Miri. I am led to believe he was in the Netherlands and was returning home to his family."

World leaders demanded an international investigation into the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner with 298 people on board.

Both Kiev and Moscow blamed each other for a tragedy.

This stoked tensions between Russia and the West.

One US official said Washington strongly suspected the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 was downed by a sophisticated surface-to-air missile fired by Ukrainian separatists backed by Moscow.

#MH17 Mourning tragic loss of one of worlds best rescue helicopter pilots, Cameron Dalziel Great man, father, husband

There were no survivors from Thursday's crash, which left wreckage and bodies scattered across miles of rebel-held territory.

The scale of the disaster could prove a turning point to resolve the crisis in Ukraine, which has killed hundreds since protests toppled the Moscow-backed president in February.

Russia annexed the Crimea area a month later.