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Ethiopian Airlines tragedy: First victims identified

Author
news.com.au,
Section
World,
Publish Date
Monday, 11 March 2019, 1:14p.m.

A British woman whose dad feared her flying is one of the first victims identified from the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash that claimed the lives of passengers and crew from 35 countries.

Joanna Toole, 36, originally from Devon, UK, died when the brand-new Boeing 737 Max 8 went down just minutes after takeoff from Bole International Airport in Ethiopia, killing all 157 people on board.

Toole, one of many United Nations workers on the doomed flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, Kenya, worked for the fisheries and aquaculture department of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation.

"Joanna was a very soft and loving person," her father Adrian Toole told The Sun. "She had never really wanted to do anything else but work in animal welfare since she was a child.

"Joanna's work was not a job — it was her vocation.

"Somehow that work took her into the international sphere and for the last 15 years she has been working for international animal welfare organisations," Toole said.

Joanna Toole, originally from Devon, UK, was killed in the Ethiopian Airlines crash. Photo / Facebook
Joanna Toole, originally from Devon, UK, was killed in the Ethiopian Airlines crash. Photo / Facebook

"That involves a lot of travelling around the world — although personally I never wanted her to be on a single one of those planes.

"I'm on environmental campaigner myself — so partly it was because of the damage to the environment but also because it's a dangerous occupation to be flying. Up until now she had been lucky."

There were 157 people, including eight crew, on board the flight. Ethiopia's state broadcaster Fana Broadcasting Corporate said the passengers included 33 nationalities.

Authorities said Canadians (18), Chinese (8), Americans (8), Italians (8), Indians (4), French (7), British (7), Dutch (5), Russian (3), Moroccan (2), Israeli (2), Belgian (1), Ugandan (1), Yemeni (1), Sudanese (1), Togolese (1), Mozambican (1), Norwegian (1) and Egyptians (6) were among the foreigners killed in the crash, along with Ethiopians (9) and Kenyans (32).

Rescuers search at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed shortly after takeoff at the scene near Addis Ababa. Photo / AP
Rescuers search at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed shortly after takeoff at the scene near Addis Ababa. Photo / AP

At least one victim from Ireland has been confirmed. Four people on board held a UN passport.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said she was "deeply saddened" to learn of the tragedy that claimed the lives of seven Brits.

"I was deeply saddened to hear of the devastating loss of life following the plane crash in Ethiopia," she said in a statement on Twitter.

"At this very difficult time my thoughts are with the families and friends of the British citizens on board and all those affected by this tragic incident."

UNITED NATIONS TO FLY FLAGS AT HALF-MAST

Married father of two Michel Ryan, from Ireland, has also been confirmed as a victim.

The Irish Times reports the man from County Clare worked with the UN World Food Programme as global deputy chief engineer.

Irish UN worker Michael Ryan has been identified as a victim of the Ethiopian Airlines disaster. Photo / Facebook
Irish UN worker Michael Ryan has been identified as a victim of the Ethiopian Airlines disaster. Photo / Facebook

Ireland's prime minister Leo Varadkar said Ryan was "doing life-changing work in Africa with the World Food Programme" and expressed his sympathies to Ryan's family, colleagues and friends.

As many as 19 United Nations workers died in the crash, the UN Department of Safety and Security in Kenya said.

That included workers with the Office of the High Commissioner on Refugees, World Bank, International Telecommunications Union, the UN Environment Program and others, according to AP.

German national Anne-Katrin Feigl, who worked with the UN migration agency, has also been confirmed as a victim.

The UN and its agencies will fly flags at half-mast today as a mark of respect.

A spokesman for the UN secretary-general, António Guterres, said he was "deeply saddened at the tragic loss of lives".

"He conveys his heartfelt sympathies and solidarity to the victims' families and loved ones, including those of United Nations staff members, as well as sincere condolences to the government and people of Ethiopia," the spokesman said.

"The United Nations is in contact with the Ethiopian authorities and working closely with them to establish the details of United Nations personnel who lost their lives in this tragedy."

More than 4700 officials have been gathering in Nairobi for the UN Environment Assembly from March 11 to 15.

As more heartbreaking stories from the crash emerge, Slovakian MP Anton Hrnko said his family had died in the crash.

"With deep sadness I announce that my dear wife Blanka, son Martin and daughter Michal died during the air disaster in Addis Ababa today in the morning hours," he wrote on Facebook.

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