According to a news report from the Australian News Service ABC, (from July 17th), about 100 of the 298 people killed on the downed Malaysia Airlines jet (MH17) were heading to the AIDS 2014 conference in Melbourne Australia, including researchers, health workers, activists and people living with HIV. Organizers now say there may be far fewer, but it is still a tragic loss and have since released the first seven names of delegates who died. “The extent of our loss is hard to comprehend or express,”said IAS president Franoise Barrinoussi.
Organisers of Aids 2014, was to welcome about 14,000 delegates from around the world, said, “The IAS is hearing unconfirmed reports that some of our friends and colleagues were on board the flight and if that is the case this is truly a sad day.”
There is international outrage over the “downing” of a civilian aircraft with a senseless loss of life. With information still uncertain as to the causes, international blame is being directed towards separits rebels in Eastern Ukraine who have mistakenly shot down the civilian airline with a surface to air missile.
The flight MH17, a Boeing 777-200, was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when aircraft tracking services lost contact with it about 12.15am Sydney time. Malaysia Airlines officials says there were 298 people on board, and at least 28 of the victims are Australian. Delegates at a session held prior to the Aids 2014 conference were told that about 100 attendees were booked on the MH17 flight.
While all persons on board are yet to be identified, initial report say nationalities of those lost are; Netherlands 154, Malaysian 43, Australian 27, Indonesian 12, UK 9, German 4, Belgian 4, Philippine 3, Canada 1 and with a further 41 unverified.
In a televised statement, The Prime Minister of Austrlia, Mr Abbott described the disaster as ”a grim day for our country and it’s a grim day for our world”. Flags on government buildings will be flown at half-mast and a national commemorative service and national day of mourning will be held at a later date. A Department of Foreign Affairs team was preparing to leave for Kiev and they would offer counselling and assistance and bodies would be repatriated to Australia as soon as possible.
Conference organizers of the 20th International AIDS Conference, to be held in Melbourne July 2– 25 say that the conference will likely go ahead as a tribute to those lost on the flight. Former International AIDS Society president Joep Lange was a passenger on the plane. International Chair of AIDS 2014, Professor Barré-Sinousi says there is no choice but to continue the conference. “The decision to go on … we are thinking about them, because we know that it’s really what they would like us to do. It’s how we take the decision.”
Organizers of the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) announced that President Bill Clinton, founder of the Clinton Foundation and 42 nd President of the United States, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé and artist and activist Sir Bob Geldof will be among the high level speakers who will join thousands of the world’s top AIDS researchers, community leaders, people living with HIV and policy makers at AIDS 2014 .