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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 18 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 29
Top researchers traveling to International AIDS Conference killed in Malaysian crash
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Top researchers traveling to International AIDS Conference killed in Malaysian crash

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Several passengers aboard Malaysian flight MH17, which was shot down near the Ukraine-Russia border by a Russian surface-to-air missile, reportedly were AIDS researchers and staff traveling to the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne.

According to reports, several, possibly dozens, of the nearly 300 passengers aboard Malaysian flight MH17 to Australia that was blown out of the sky without warning by a Russian surface-to-air missile, were headed to the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne.

The International AIDS Conference released this short statement, 'The International AIDS Society (IAS) today expresses its sincere sadness at receiving news that a number of colleagues and friends en route to attend the 20th International AIDS Conference taking place in Melbourne, Australia, were on board the Malaysian Airlines MH17 flight that has crashed over Ukraine earlier today.

At this incredibly sad and sensitive time the IAS stands with our international family and sends condolences to the loved ones of those who have been lost to this tragedy.'

About 14,000 people from more than 200 countries are convening in Melbourne to assess how far the world has come in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and to seek consensus on what more needs to be done.

The pro-Russian separatists who control the area where the flight crashed have agreed to allow investigators safe access to the crash site to recover bodies and gather evidence, according to a statement from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

It remains unclear if Americans were on board the flight. Officials said that 154 passengers were Dutch. In addition, according to the latest numbers released by the airline, 43 were Malaysian, 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians, 9 British, 4 Belgians, 4 Germans, 3 Filipinos and 1 Canadian. Nationalities of 41 other passengers remain unknown at this time.

On Twitter, the hashtag #AIDS2014 has become filled with updates and messages of condolence.

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