SYDNEY (AP) - The premier of the Australian state hosting an international AIDS conference says a "substantial number" of world-renowned AIDS researchers and activists were on board a Malaysian jetliner that was shot down over Ukraine.

Victoria Premier Denis Napthine told reporters in Melbourne on Friday that he can confirm many passengers on board the Malaysia Airlines plane were en route to next week's 20th International AIDS conference in Melbourne.

There have been unconfirmed reports that up to 100 people on board the flight were going to the conference. Napthine says it's far too early to give a precise figure.