GENEVA, July 18 (Xinhua) -- The Joint United Nations Program in HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) on Friday expressed deep sadness over the loss of lives in the crashed Malaysian flight MH17.
UNAIDS noted while the full details are still unclear, it is believed that some of the passengers were on their way to participate in the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia.
The World Heath Organization (WHO) on Friday confirmed that one of its spokespersons, Glenn Thomas, died in the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash.
"It seems that some of the finest academics, healthcare workers and activists in the AIDS response may have perished while traveling to take part in the international gathering of experts and advocates," the UNAIDS said.
Prof. Joep Lange, the former president of the International AIDS Society, was among the victims.
"We are bracing ourselves to hear of the deaths of others who worked in the AIDS response as their names are officially released," a UNAIDS statement quoted Michel Sidibe, the executive director of UNAIDS, as saying.
"The UNAIDS family is in deep shock. Our hearts go out to the families of all the victims of this tragic crash," he said, adding that deaths of so many committed people working against HIV will be a great loss for the AIDS response.
A Malaysia Airlines passenger jet carrying 298 people crashed in eastern Ukraine Thursday en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Most of the dead were from the Netherlands.