The Elton John AIDS Foundation says, ''Our hearts are with all the families and friends of those on the Malaysian Airways #MH17 flight,'' many of whom were heading to an AIDS conference.
Dr. Joep Lange, a leading AIDS researcher, is presumed dead in the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was apparently shot down over Ukraine on Thursday.
He was among a number of AIDS researchers, health officials and activists thought to have been aboard the flight, the International AIDS Society said today. Around one hundred were en route to the International AIDS Conference, scheduled to begin Sunday in Melbourne, Australia. He was accompanied by his longtime companion, Jacqueline van Tongeren.
The World Health Organisation also confirmed that Glenn Thomas, a communications officer, was aboard the plane.
The International AIDS Conference is organised by the International AIDS Society, who released a statement following the crash.
“The IAS expresses its sincere sadness at receiving the 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 flight that has crashed over Ukraine earlier today. 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.”
“Today, we apparently lost 100 of our best and brightest,” Cleve Jones, co-founder of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, added. “It’s just heartbreaking. We’re a family.”
It is also believed that as many as 80 children perished.