Ukraine air crash: flight had students and Aids researchers on board

Former International Aids Society president Joep Lange among those killed

July 18, 2014


An eminent Aids scientist, two medical researchers, and two British students are among the 298 people killed in the Malaysia Airlines crash in Ukraine.

At least 100 passengers aboard flight MH17 were bound for an international global Aids conference in Melbourne, which was due to begin this weekend, it is believed.

The Boeing 777 aircraft was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was allegedly hit by a surface to air missile launched from an area held by pro-Russian separatist rebels on 17 July.

Former International Aids Society president Joep Lange and his partner Jacqueline van Tongeren – who was a board member of action group ArtAids – have been confirmed among the dead.

Professor Lange, an Aids researcher for 30 years, was a professor of medicine and head of the department of global health at the Academic Medical Centre at the University of Amsterdam.

He served as president of the International Aids Society from 2002 to 2004, led pivotal trials of antiretroviral therapy and published more than 350 papers in peer-reviewed journals.

Professor Lange was hailed as a “great clinical scientist” by his friend, Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust.

“He is a great loss to global health research,” said Dr Farrar, who said he was “deeply saddened” by the death of his friend, Ms van Tongeren and other colleagues from the WHO and the HIV research community.

Others reported to have been killed on the flight include WHO press officer Glenn Thomas, a former BBC journalist.

Mr Thomas, 49, from Blackpool, moved to Geneva, Switzerland a decade ago to work for the WHO.

Other passengers en route to the 20th International Aids Conference, AIDS2014, include Aids lobbyist Pim de Kuijer and researchers Martine de Schutter and Lucie van Mens, it has been reported.

Richard Mayne, who was studying maths at the University of Leeds, and Loughborough University business student Ben Pocock are reported as being passengers on the flight.

Tributes have poured in on social media for Mr Mayne, 20, who was originally from Leicester, where he lived with his parents.

Mr Pocock, from Bristol, had just completed the second year and was flying out to begin a professional placement and to study abroad at the University of Western Australia as part of his third year, according to Loughborough, which said it was “incredibly saddened” to hear about his death.

“Ben was an excellent student and on course to gain a first-class degree,” a spokesman said.

“He was also a fine athlete, who played on the University Athletic Union’s Ultimate Frisbee team and won their ‘Player of the Year’ honour,” he added.

It has been confirmed that Malaysian student Elaine Teoh, who had been studying at the University of Melbourne, was also on the flight.

A first-year Dutch medical student at the University of Groningen, Emma Essers, 20, was also a passenger on the flight as she travelled with her family to Borneo for a three-week holiday in the jungle.

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