More than 100 of the 298 passengers onboard a Malaysia Airlines plane when it was shot down over eastern Ukraine were
headed to the International Aids Conference in Melbourne, Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
“The International AIDS Society (IAS) today expresses its sincere sadness at receiving news that a number of colleagues and friends en route to attend the 20th International AIDS Conference taking place in Melbourne, Australia, were on board the Malaysian Airlines MH17 flight that has crashed over Ukraine earlier today,” the society wrote on its website. “At this incredibly sad and sensitive time the IAS stands with our international family and sends condolences to the loved ones of those who have been lost to this tragedy.”
The flight out of Amsterdam was headed to Kuala Lumpur, with some of the passengers planning to connect for a follow-on flight to Australia. As the flight passed over territory held by pro-Russian separatists, it was shot down by a surface-to-air missile.
According to The Australian, it is believed that 108 of the passengers onboard were expected in Melbourne.
“Yet again, we’re devastated by a similar tragedy,” health research Clive Aspin told The Herald, reflecting on AIDS researcher Jonathan Mann’s death in a plane crash 16 years ago. “It’s going to be a very somber mood at the conference in Melbourne, especially for those of us who have been coming to these conferences for many years.”
Dr. Joep Lange, a leading AIDS researcher from the Netherlands, was reportedly onboard according to the Daily Mail. His death was not yet confirmed, but many took to Twitter to express condolences:
Joep Lange was a leading AIDS researcher and clinician and an activist at heart. Lost today too soon on Malaysian flight 019. RIP
— Gregg Gonsalves (@gregggonsalves) July 17, 2014
Glen Raymond Thomas, a spokesman for the World Health Organisation based in Geneva, was also reportedly onboard.
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