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Malaysian plane crash: Tributes to British man

People walk among the debris at the crash site near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine (AP)
People walk among the debris at the crash site near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine (AP)

Tributes have been paid to the first Brit known to have died in the Malaysian air disaster.

Glenn Thomas, 49, a media officer at the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva, was as a “wonderful person and a great professional”, according to colleagues.

He had been travelling to an international conference on Aids aboard flight MH17 when it crashed in eastern Ukraine.

Mr Thomas was among 298 people killed when the Boeing 777-200 aircraft flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was apparently shot down over the war-torn country yesterday.

Nine Britons are known to have died in the crash, while up to 100 of those killed were reportedly delegates on their way to an international conference on Aids in Melbourne, Australia.

Paying tribute to Mr Thomas, WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said: “I can confirm he was on the flight travelling to Australia to attend the Aids conference in Australia.

“For the time being we would like to give his family time to grieve. We have lost a wonderful person and a great professional.

“Our hearts are broken. We are all in shock.”

Mr Thomas, a former BBC journalist, was reportedly from Blackpool and had recently celebrated his birthday.

On Twitter, Timothy O’Leary, communications team leader at the WHO’s Western Pacific office, wrote: “I grieve for my friend and former WHO colleague Glenn Thomas who died in the missile attack on MH17 over Ukraine.”

BBC TV news editor Rachel Kennedy wrote: “Horrified to discover lovely Glenn Thomas on MH17.

“Always a smiling face, will be hugely missed.”

Freelance journalist Ilan Moss wrote: “I’m absolutely devastated to learn of death of WHO colleague Glenn Thomas in MH17 on way to AIDS 2014.”

Javier Munoz wrote: “Sad news today, a member of my WHO family was in the Malaysia Airlines plane.”

Toby Johnson added: “Sorry to hear of the loss of all in MH17. For Geneva-based media pros, loss of WHO’s Glenn Thomas particularly sad.”

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