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Ethiopia plane crash: British victims identified as 157 passengers and crew killed

'Loving' 36-year-old woman who fought against whaling among victims of tragedy

Jane Dalton
Sunday 10 March 2019 23:17 GMT
Ethiopia plane crash wreck

Three of the nine Britons, and one Irish citizen, who died when the Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed on Sunday have been identified.

Joanna Toole, 36, from Exmouth in Devon, was on the plane heading to Nairobi to attend the UN Environment Assembly.

Her father, Adrian, described her as a very soft and loving woman whose work “was not a job – it was her vocation”.

“Everybody was very proud of her and the work she did. We’re still in a state of shock,” he told the DevonLive website.

“Joanna was genuinely one of those people who you never heard a bad word about.” He said his daughter used to travel to the remote Faroe Islands to prevent whaling.

Manuel Barange, head of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations fisheries and aquaculture department, tweeted that he was “profoundly sad and lost for words” over the death of a “wonderful human being”.

Irishman Michael Ryan was among seven dead from the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), which distributes huge amounts of rations every year to those in need.

The Rome-based aid worker and engineer, known as Mick, who was formerly from Lahinch in Co Clare, was believed to have been married with two children.

His projects included creating safe ground for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and assessing damage to roads in Nepal from landslides.

Irish premier Leo Varadkar said: “Michael was doing life-changing work in Africa with the World Food Programme.”

Joseph Waithaka, a 55-year-old who lived in Hull for a decade before moving back to his native Kenya, also died in the crash, his son told the Hull Daily Mail.

Ben Kuria, who lives in London, said his father had worked for the Probation Service. “He helped so many people in Hull who had found themselves on the wrong side of the law,” he said.

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Mr Waithaka had dual Kenyan and British citizenship, the BBC reported.

Polar expert Sarah Auffret died on the flight as she made her way to Nairobi to talk about a Clean Seas project, her Norway-based employers Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) said. Norwegian media reported that the University of Plymouth graduate was a French-British dual national.

“Sarah was on her way to Nairobi to talk about the Clean Seas project in connection with the UN Environment Assembly this week,” an AECO statement said.

Joanna Toole was one of seven British citizens on board the flight (Facebook) (Joanna Toole via Facebook)

“Words cannot describe the sorrow and despair we feel. We have lost a true friend and beloved colleague.”

Initial reports had suggested that seven Britons were on board the plane but the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said on Monday that nine citizens had died.

"We can now sadly confirm at least nine British nationals were on board flight ET302," a spokesperson said.

"Our staff at the British Embassy in Addis Ababa are continuing to work with the relevant authorities in Ethiopia to obtain further information."

The Boeing 737 flight ET 302 took off from the capital Addis Ababa, heading to Nairobi in Kenya.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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