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Bristol schoolboy among victims of Air France plane crash

02 June 2009

A schoolboy from Bristol who was returning from half-term holiday is among the 228 people feared dead after an Air France plane disappeared over the Atlantic.

Clifton College prep school confirmed that one of its pupils, Alexander Bjoroy, 11, is one of seven children and five Britons on the passenger list of flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

The school's headteacher, John Milne, issued a statement saying: " Alexander joined the school in January, 2009, and was a well liked and respected boarder who will be sorely missed by his fellow pupils and staff. Our deepest sympathies and condolences are with the family in Brazil at this time."

The school said that no other members of his family were on board.

The director of an engineering consultancy for the oil industry, Arthur Coakley, is also understood to have taken the flight.

His wife Patricia Coakley told the BBC her husband was returning from a four-week stint in Brazil working on an oil rig.

She said: "He had just checked in his luggage and was waiting for his flight to be called. His return date had been cancelled twice but he wasn't supposed to be on this flight."

She said the couple's two sons and daughter were "distraught" although the family was not giving up hope of her "fabulous, kind" husband being found.

Coakley's business partner, Ken Pearce, said the previous flight which he had hoped to board was full.

Coakley is a founding director of Aberdeen-based Project Design and Management Services Ltd. In a statement the company said it was "deeply saddened" to confirm that Coakley is understood to have taken the flight. It said he had been working in Brazil on the installation drilling equipment on an oil rig.

A young Belfast doctor and part-time dancer with the "Riverdance" troup is also missing. Dr Eithne Walls had been working at the Eye and Ear Hospital in Dublin and had been in Brazil with two other Irish doctors, Aisling Butler and Jane Deasy. All three had been on the doomed flight. The women were all on a two-week holiday in Brazil and had been long-time friends from their time as Trinity College Dublin students.

Ireland's foreign minister Michael Martin said government officials had been in contact with all three victims' families.

"Our embassies in France and Brazil remain in close contact with the authorities investigating the disappearance of the flight," the minister said.

Dr Walls, who was in her 20s, still danced in her spare time and had been a member of Riverdance's so called "flying squad" of dancers who once performed on Broadway.

Her friend Aine Rooney, a dancing teacher who had trained with Eithne as a child at the Armstrong School of Irish dancing in west Belfast paid tribute to her friend.

"She was a beautiful person. She had the most caring, kind personality. She was so loveable and a joy to be around. She was a people person."

Aisling Butler's father, John, said he could not describe his family's grief.

"We know Aisling is gone, we are sure of that," he said.

"It is just about trying to live now, I have to live for my wife and my only other daughter, Lorna."

He said his daughter, who celebrated her 26th birthday just over two weeks ago, lived for her job as a young doctor but also enjoyed life to the full.

Irish President Mary McAleese said she was thinking about the families of the missing passengers.

"My thoughts and prayers, and the thoughts of everyone, this evening are with the Irish families and the families of everyone on board at this very difficult time," she said.


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