Via The Washington Post: Top AIDS researcher and other scientists perished on MH17. Excerpt:
In an address to the nation Friday at noon, President Obama said “nearly 100” of those killed — one third of the 298 people on board — may have been en route to the 2014 International Aids Conference in Melbourne, which is scheduled to begin this weekend. The White House said the figure came from remarks made by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
But conference organizers said they have only been able to confirm seven names.
“We have been working hard to try and confirm how many people were on the flight. We’ve been speaking to a number of different authorities, and we think the actual number is much smaller,” said Chris Beyrer, who will take over the presidency of the International AIDS Society at the end of the global conference next week.
Their efforts have been complicated by the fact that the airline has not released a passenger manifest so they have been relying on information from colleagues, friends, family members and authorities from various countries. He said that while there may be some people who were on the flight and headed to the conference that they do not know about, it appears that the numbers are “an order of magnitude smaller than what has been reported.”
Among the others who have been confirmed by employers or others to have been on the flight include three Dutch AIDS activists. Lucie van Mens had been involved in HIV/AIDS prevention work; Martine de Schutter was a program manager at Bridging the Gaps, which lobbies for universal access to HIV prevention; and Pim de Kuijer was a lobbyist at the group Stop AIDS Now.
The World Health Organization also confirmed that longtime spokesman Glenn Thomas had been on the flight on his way to the AIDS conference. In an e-mail, Oyuntungalag Namjilsuren, a colleague of Thomas’s at WHO, called the tragedy “a shell shocking event in global aids response.”
A member of the Dutch parliament was also killed on his way to the to the event, authorities said.
Lange’s partner, Jacqueline van Tongeren, who had worked in the field of AIDS for nearly 18 years, also died in the crash.
Whatever the number of AIDS workers aboard MH17, the human tragedy is undiminished; but if the number is smaller than first reported, then the damage to the AIDS science community is less severe.