Ebola virus outbreak: President of Sierra Leone unable to attend summit in London after plane breaks down

Ernest Bai Koroma had been due to attend the conference in London

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The Independent Online

The president of Sierra Leone has been unable to attend a summit in London to discuss the Ebola crisis after his chartered plane experienced technical difficulties before taking off.

Ernest Bai Koroma was due to attend the international conference, organised by the UK and Sierra Leone governments, to discuss how the global community can provide an effective response to the crisis in West Africa.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Development Secretary Justine Greening are also among those taking part in the global event at Lancaster House in central London.

A Foreign Office spokesman told The Independent: "Unfortunately the President of Sierra Leone is now unable to attend the Defeating Ebola conference.

"The chartered plane he was scheduled to fly on experienced significant technical difficulties prior to take off.

"We are currently exploring alternative ways for the President to participate in the conference."

Government foreign travel advice for Sierra Leone says there are "narrowing commercial options" for flights to the country.

It says British Airways has suspended flights to Sierra Leone and Liberia until December 31 due to the public health situation.

Air France has also suspended flights to Sierra Leone while a number of other airlines have suspended flights to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, the Government's foreign travel advice website says.

Video: Idris Ebla's parents were from Sierra Leone

Experts have warned the outbreak in West Africa has developed at an unprecedented scale.

It has been claimed the current rate of infection stands at 1.7, meaning for every ten people who contract the virus, a further 17 will be infected.

More than 40 British military personnel and aid experts are working in Sierra Leone following a request for assistance from the country's government and the World Health Organisation.

6-Ebola-Reuters.jpgMore than 160 NHS staff are also due to travel to Sierra Leone following a call for volunteers to help fight the disease earlier this month.

Experts believe doctors and scientists have a 90-day window to find a medical solution and halt the spread of Ebola.

The death toll from the highly infectious condition, which has spread across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, has reportedly risen to more than 3,000.

Additional reporting by Press Association