President Barack Obama cited a claim during his Friday statement on the downed Malaysia Airlines plane that appeared to have been discredited early Saturday morning.
“On board Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, there were apparently nearly 100 researchers and advocates traveling to an international conference in Australia dedicated to combating AIDS/HIV,” the president said. “These were men and women who had dedicated their own lives to saving the lives of others and they were taken from us in a senseless act of violence.”
Multiple unsourced reports had circulated in the aftermath of the MH17 crash indicating that more than 100 individuals aboard the doomed flight were headed to an International AIDS Society conference.
However, early Saturday morning, a top AIDS official told the Agence France-Presse that only six colleagues were on the missing plane, not 100 as earlier reports suggested.
“The number that we have confirmed through our contacts with authorities in Australia, in Malaysia, and Dutch authorities as well is six people. It may be a little bit more, but not the numbers that have been announced,” IAS president Francoise Barre-Sinoussi said.
Her remarks echoed Friday comments made by Chris Beyrer, the incoming president of the IAS.
“We have been working hard to try and confirm how many people were on the flight. We’ve been speaking to a number of different authorities, and we think the actual number is much smaller (than 100),” Beyrer told the Washington Post.
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