This is devastating for the AIDS research community. Though the exact number is unconfirmed, it appears that prominent researchers and activists were on board the flight shot down on Thursday morning.
There have been unconfirmed reports that up to 100 people on board the Boeing 777 were en route to the Victoria state capital of Melbourne to attend the 20th International AIDS conference, which starts Sunday, Victoria Premier Denis Napthine said, though he hastened to add that reports were conflicting and it was far too premature to give a precise figure.
“There’s been confirmed a number of senior people who were coming out here who were researchers, who were medical scientists, doctors, people who’ve been to the forefront of dealing with AIDS across the world,” Napthine told reporters in Melbourne. “The exact number is not yet known, but there is no doubt it’s a substantial number.
But there are informal confirmations of prominent names:
Among the passengers was former president of the International AIDS Society Joep Lange, a well-known HIV researcher from the Netherlands, opposition leader Bill Shorten said in parliament.
And this one:
The World Health Organization’s Geneva-based spokesman Glenn Thomas, who was en route to the conference, was also among the dead, said Christian Lindmeier, spokesman for WHO’s Western Pacific region.
The estimated number of people on the flight connected to the conference is over 100. As someone remarked on Twitter, what if the cure for AIDS was on that plane?