Irish father-of-two killed on Ethiopian Airlines jet which crashed minutes after takeoff named locally
- Irish citizen is among victims of today’s Ethiopian Airlines disaster
- Plane crashed just minutes after take-off, about 62km south of Ethiopian capital
- Search operation in progress on crash site
- All 157 people on board flight have died; list of victims' nationalities released
- Passengers from 33 countries onboard the jet
- USA to send team to assist in the fatal crash
The Irish passenger who died on an Ethiopian Airlines plane which crashed just minutes after takeoff has been named locally as Irish developmental aid worker Michael 'Mick' Ryan.
Mr Ryan, a native of Lahinch, Co Clare, had been working with the United Nations world food programme.
Tragically, the accident occurred just weeks before he was to relocate with his wife, Naoise, and their two young children from Ireland to Italy.
Mr Ryan was described in both Lahinch and Ennistymon, where he boasted many friends, as "a wonderful, compassionate man who lived for his job of helping others."
He is the son of Christina and the late Jack Ryan. His mother is a retired teacher who was based at Scoil Mhuire in Ennistymon.
His late father, Jack, who died in 2013, was a respected accountant in Clare.
Mr Ryan is survived by his siblings, Cristin, Siobhan and Tiernan.
In a special message, the Lahinch Parish extended the sympathies of the entire community to the Ryan family.
"We pray for all who have died so unexpectedly in this tragedy, their families, colleagues and friends.
"We pray for all working at the accident site at this present moment.
Ethiopian press conf.: Pilot requested return due technical issue. Nationalities include 32 from Kenya, 18 Canada, 9 Ethiopia, 8 China, 8 Italy, 8 US, 7 France, 7 UK, 6 Egypt, 5 Netherlands, 4 UN, 4 India, 3 Russia, 2 Morocco, 2 Israel, 1 Belgium, 1 Uganda, 1 Yemen #ET302 pic.twitter.com/162pbkzNNz— Flight Radar TWN (@FlightRadar_TWN) March 10, 2019
"We hope that God will bless everyone in this tragedy for so many people."
Mr Ryan was one of Ireland's most respected developmental aid workers. He had worked on various UN programmes across the world including high profile projects in both Africa and Asia. He was especially proud of a project he had worked on for the UN in Bangladesh.
The Office of the PM, on behalf of the Government and people of Ethiopia, would like to express it’s deepest condolences to the families of those that have lost their loved ones on Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 on regular scheduled flight to Nairobi, Kenya this morning.— Office of the Prime Minister - Ethiopia (@PMEthiopia) March 10, 2019
It is understood he was flying to a development project in Africa when the tragedy occurred.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that he had the deepest sympathies for Mr Ryan's family, colleagues and friends.
"Our thoughts tonight are with families of all those lost in the Ethiopian Airlines crash, including Irish engineer Michael Ryan. Michael was doing life-changing work in Africa with the World Food Programme," he said.
Minister Charlie Flanagan sent his condolences to Mr Ryan's family and friends, at "all at Rome HQ".
"Thoughts and prayers with families of Ethiopian air crash victims but thinking especially of Ryan family from Clare," he said.
"Michael was a young man committed to the highest ideals of fighting world poverty and providing food for all."
Clare Senator, Martin Conway, who hails from Ennistymon, said he was "deeply saddened at the news of the death of Michael Ryan".
"Michael worked with the UN on the World Food Programme helping the most vulnerable people on our planet. My thoughts and prayers are with his family," he said.
The World Food Programme confirmed Mr Ryan’s passing and said that in total seven of their colleagues had died in the plane crash.
"Yes, I can very, very sadly confirm that Michael Ryan worked for WFP and was based at our headquarters in Rome and was among those killed on ET 302. All of WFP’s thoughts and condolences are with the families of those killed," a spokesperson said.
"Today is a profoundly sad one for the World Food Programme, as we are in mourning for the seven WFP staff members who lost their lives this morning in the Ethiopian Airlines tragedy."
WFP Executive Director, David Beasley said that UN Secretary General, António Guterres called to express his solidarity amongst many others.
"As we mourn, let us reflect that each of these WFP colleagues were willing to travel and work far from their homes and loved ones to help make the world a better place to live. That was their calling, as it is for the rest of the WFP family," Mr Beasley said.
"We also mourn the loss of our colleagues at other United Nations agencies who died today, and we ask that everyone keep those who lost loved ones in their thoughts and prayers.
"As we mourn, let us reflect that each of these WFP colleagues were willing to travel and work far from their homes and loved ones to help make the world a better place to live. That was their calling, as it is for the rest of the WFP family," he added.
The Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX aircraft crashed just six minutes after it took off from Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa.
The flight left Bole airport in Addis Ababa at 8.38 am local time, before losing contact with the control tower just a few minutes later at 8.44 am.
"There are no survivors onboard the flight," said state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation, quoting an unidentified source at the airline.
All 157 people on board perished in the tragedy.
It has now emerged the pilot reported difficulties with the aircraft, which is just four months old, and had been granted permission to return to Addis Ababa.
The death toll included citizens from 35 nations.
The airline's CEO told journalists at a press conference today that the victims included 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians, eight Italians, eight Chinese citizens, eight Americans, seven British citizens, seven French citizens, six Egyptians, five Dutch citizens, four Indians, four people from Slovakia, three Austrians, three Swedes, three Russians, two Moroccans, two Spaniards, two Poles and two Israelis.
Belgium, Indonesia, Somalia, Norway, Serbia, Togo, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda and Yemen each had one citizen onboard.
Four of those onboard were listed as using United Nations passports and their nationalities were not immediately clear.
The airline CEO told journalists there was "one Irish passport holder" on board. Mr Ryan was the only Irish national on board.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said it was doing everything possible to assist the family involved.
"The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is aware of the incident, and we stand ready to provide consular assistance if requested."
The chief executive of Ethiopian Airlines Tewolde Gebremariam visited the crash site some 60km from the capital and extended his sympathies to all the families involved.
Mr Gerbremariam confirmed that the pilot had reported difficulties and asked to turn back due to "no known technical problems".
The airline boss said the pilot involved had an excellent safety record.
One report from Ethiopia has indicated the brand new plane had an unstable vertical speed in the minutes before the tragedy.
It is the second fatal accident involving the brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet in the past six months.
A Lion Air plane crashed shortly after takeoff in Indonesia on October 29 2018 resulting in the death of all 189 passengers and crew.
While Boeing refused to comment on whether there will be an investigation into the model or if any planes will be recalled, a spokesperson for the aerospace company told the Independent.ie that they are prepared to dispatch a technical team to assist with the Ethiopian airline crash.
"Boeing is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a 737 MAX 8 airplane," he said.
"We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew on board and stand ready to support the Ethiopian Airlines team.
"A Boeing technical team is prepared to provide technical assistance at the request and under the direction of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board."
Meanwhile, another United Nations worker has been named as one of the seven British passengers who were among 157 people killed.
Joanna Toole, a 36-year-old from Devon, was said to have been among those killed on the Boeing 737 Max 8 plane destined for Nairobi when it hit the ground six minutes after departing Addis Ababa on Sunday morning.
Colleagues at the United Nations fisheries and aquaculture department described her as a "wonderful human being", while her father said she was a "very soft and loving" woman.