World Aids expert among victims of plane crash

2014-07-18 14:08
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Flight MH17 crash site

Crash site of fight MH17, a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 shot down over Ukraine.

The Hague - World-renowned Aids expert Joep Lange was among the victims of the Malaysia Airlines plane that crashed in eastern Ukraine, his society announced on Friday.

"I can confirm Joep Lange was on the plane," Andrea de Graaf, spokesperson for PharmAccess, told AFP by telephone from Amsterdam.

The PharmAccess Foundation, which Lange set up in 2000, is a non-governmental organisation that facilitates access to treatment for HIV and AIDS patients across Africa.

Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, which US officials believe was hit by a surface-to-air missile over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board, was due to connect with another flight to Melbourne.

The Sydney Morning Herald said as many as 100 of those who died were delegates en route to Melbourne for the 20th International AIDS Conference, which is to begin on Sunday.

'Massive loss'

"This is a massive loss. We are devastated," PharmAccess managing director Onno Schellekens said in a statement.

Lange's "dedication to the treatment of HIV/Aids and global health in general has been groundbreaking," Schellekens said.

Lange's close friend and fellow Aids expert Jaap Goudsmit added: "It's a great loss to the world in the fight against Aids, a great loss to The Netherlands and a great loss for me."

Lange "was a politician and activist in every sense of the word. He never thought of retiring. This was his whole life", Goudsmit said, his voice choked with emotion.

Lange, who was 59, had worked since 1983 at Amsterdam's Medical Centre.

Lange was president of the International Aids Society from 1992-95, and he co-chaired the International Aids Conference held in Bangkok in 2004.

Read more on:    malaysia airlines  |  malaysia  |  air travel  |  mh17  |  air crashes  |  aviation
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