Ethiopian Airlines crash: British dad's 'pride' in 'loving' daughter

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Media caption,

Joanna Toole's father said it was "tragic" she would not be able to achieve more with the UN

The father of a British woman who was on the Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed on Sunday has spoken of his pride in his daughter's achievements.

Adrian Toole said it was "tragic" that 36-year-old Joanna would not be able to achieve more in her career with the UN.

Tributes have also been paid to Kenyan and British dual national Joseph Waithaka and University of Plymouth graduate Sarah Auffret.

The Foreign Office said at least seven Britons were among the dead.

The crash happened at 08:44 local time (05:44 GMT), six minutes after the months-old Boeing 737 Max-8 took off.

There were 149 passengers and eight crew members on board.

'Never a bad word'

Mr Toole said he last spoke to his daughter, who was from Exmouth but was living in Rome, on Friday evening.

He told Devon Live she was a "very soft and loving person" and that they were "still in a state of shock" over her death.

"Joanna was genuinely one of those people who you never heard a bad word about."

He said her job involved a lot of travel, but added: "Personally, I never wanted her to be on a single one of those planes.

"I'm an environmental campaigner myself - so partly it was because of the damage to the environment but also because it's a dangerous occupation to be flying. Up until now she had been lucky."

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Toole paid tribute to her 15 years working in international animal welfare organisations: "I'm very proud of what she achieved. It's just tragic that she couldn't carry on to further her career and achieve more."

"She was very well known in her own line of business and we've had many tributes already paid to her," he added.

'Wonderful human being'

He said he remembered when she was a small child she had tried to save badgers from being run over on a new road near her home.

Ms Toole, who worked for the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), was travelling to the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi.

The director of the FAO, Manuel Barange, tweeted: "So profoundly sad and lost for words at the loss of our wonderful @FAOfish officer @JoannaToole".

"A wonderful human being, who loved her work with a passion. Our love to her family and loved ones."

Image source, AECO/PA
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Sarah Auffret was also travelling to the UN Environment Assembly

Ms Auffret, believed to have had dual British and French nationality, was a polar tourism expert and had been travelling to Nairobi to talk about how to tackle marine plastic pollution at the UN event.

She grew up in Brittany in northern France before going on to live in the UK, Australia, Germany, Argentina, Japan, and the Antarctic Peninsula. Norwegian media reported she was aged 30 and lived in Tromso, Norway.

Ms Auffret had graduated from the University of Plymouth in 2007, having taken a degree in European Studies and German.

A spokesman for the university described her as "an exemplary student who fully embraced university life and took every opportunity to develop herself while she was here", adding: "She is remembered as someone who had a passion for learning about Europe and a strong moral compass."

Her employers, the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators, said they were "shocked and heartbroken" to learn of her death.

In a statement, released with the agreement of Ms Auffret's family, they said: "Words cannot describe the sorrow and despair we feel. We have lost a true friend and beloved colleague."

Ms Auffret joined AECO last May and was leading the company's Clean Seas project - this included efforts to cut back on single-use plastics on Arctic expedition cruise ships and to involve cruise passengers in beach clean-ups.

Image source, Ben Kuria
Image caption,
Joseph Waithaka was a father of three

Joseph Waithaka - a 55-year-old Kenyan and British dual national - was also killed in the crash.

His son, Ben Kuria said he was still in shock after hearing that his father, who moved to the UK in 2004, was on board the flight.

Mr Kuria described him as a "generous" man who "loved justice".

Father-of-three Mr Waithaka lived in Hull and worked for the Humberside Probation Trust before returning to live in Kenya in 2015.

Media caption,

Son of Ethiopian Airlines passenger: "I'm still in shock"

Mr Kuria said he had seen his father in Croydon, south London on Saturday, when he had been in the UK visiting relatives.

They had a meal together and said goodbye before his father caught a flight to Addis Ababa, he said.

"I gave him a hug and shook his hand, because in my culture it's more about the handshake than it is about the hug," he told BBC News.

"And I said we'll probably see you at some point soon. We usually spend a bit more time saying goodbye, but yesterday it kind of just felt routine."

Image source, World Food Programme/PA
Image caption,
Michael Ryan worked for the World Food Programme

Michael Ryan, from Ireland, was one of seven people from the UN's World Food Programme who died in the crash.

The aid worker and engineer, known as Mick, was formerly from Lahinch in County Clare and is believed to have been married with two children.

Irish taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Mr Ryan was "doing life-changing work in Africa".

Image source, Jonathan Druion
Image caption,
The Boeing 737 Max-8 aircraft that crashed on Sunday

Ethiopian Airlines said it had contacted the families of all the victims, who came from 35 nations - including 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians and eight Americans.

At least 19 victims were affiliated with the United Nations, according to a UN official.

The cause of the disaster is not yet known. However, the pilot had reported difficulties and had asked to return to Addis Ababa, the airline said.

Another plane of the same model was involved in a crash less than five months ago, when a Lion Air flight crashed into the sea near Indonesia with nearly 190 people on board.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority said there were five Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft registered and operational in the UK, with a sixth due to enter operation this week. It said it was liaising with the European Aviation Safety Agency as information about the crash emerged.

Meanwhile, two airlines that fly in and out of the UK and have the Boeing 737 Max 8 among their fleet said their aircraft were operating as normal.

Tui Airways, which became the first UK airline to receive a Max 8 last November, currently flies six of the type.

Scandinavian airline Norwegian serves London Gatwick, Manchester and Edinburgh and has 18 Max 8s in service.