AIDS Conference Attendees in Air Tragedy
18 July 2014 at 12:10 pm
The International AIDS Society (IAS) has released a statement revealing that scientists on their way to attend the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne were on board the Malaysian Airlines MH17 flight which crashed in the Ukraine.
According to Malaysian Airlines, the scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in eastern Ukraine. It said 298 people were on board – of those people 27 were Australian.
“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,” IAS said in its statement.
“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.”
National AIDS Trust has tweeted that among those on board was Dutch AIDS researcher Joep Lange.
"Reports Joep Lange died in Malaysian plane crash today, with other scientists on way to @AIDS_conference. Desperately sad news," the National AIDS Trust tweeted.
According to Malaysian Airlines, the usual flight route was earlier declared safe by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. It said International Air Transportation Association had stated that the airspace the aircraft was traversing was not subject to restrictions.
The 20th International Aids Conference is scheduled to run from July 20 to 25 in Melbourne. Bill Clinton, founder of the Clinton Foundation and 42nd President of the United States, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé and artist and activist Sir Bob Geldof are due to speak at the conference.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has advised that those who are unable to contact friends and family, and still hold concerns for their welfare, should call DFAT’s 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas, or within Australia on 1300 555 135 (local call cost).