Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Air France disaster: How pals learnt of the tragedy

Dr Eithne Walls
Dr Eithne Walls
Dr Eithne Walls
The Walls family described Eithne as 'an extraordinary person who brought light into the lives of everyone she touched'
A man, rear center left, and a woman, rear center right, walk past French police officers, right, as they enter a side entrance to a hotel near Charles de Gaulle's airport in Roissy, north of Paris, Tuesday, June 2, 2009, where relatives of the passengers of Air France's flight 447 that vanished Monday over the Atlantic ocean, are staying. An Air France jet with 228 people on a flight From Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to Paris vanished over the Atlantic Ocean after flying into towering thunderstorms and sending an automated message that the electrical system had failed. A vast search began Monday, but all aboard were feared killed. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
A member of the ground crew gives a thumbs up signal to the pilot of an Atlantic Model 2 aircraft as it prepares to depart from France's air base in Dakar, Senegal, toward the presumed site of the crash of a missing Air France flight Tuesday, June 2, 2009. France has three military patrol aircraft flying over the central Atlantic from their base in Senegal and it is sending an AWACS radar plane that should join the operation on Wednesday, said French military spokesman Christophe Prazuck.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
This photo taken Tuesday, June 2, provided by ECPAD, shows French army air crewman aboard an Atlantic Model 2 aircraft, which took off from a French air base in Dakar, Senegal, patroling the presumed site of the crash of a missing Air France flight. France has three military patrol aircrafts flying over the central Atlantic from their base in Senegal and it is sending an AWACS radar plane that should join the operation on Wednesday, said French military spokesman Christophe Prazuck. (AP Photo/ECPAD/French Defense Minister)
A Brazilian Air Force radar plane takes off to take part in the searching mission of the Air France flight 447 in Fernando de Noronha, 350 kms off the coast of Natal, in northeastern Brazil, Tuesday, June 2, 2009. The Air France airplane, carrying 228 people from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, ran into a towering wall of thunderstorms and disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean late Sunday local time. Brazilian military pilots spotted early Tuesday an airplane seat, an orange buoy, and other debris and signs of fuel in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean as they hunted for the missing flight. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
This aerial view shows the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, northeast of Brazil, Tuesday, June 2, 2009. Brazilian military pilots spotted an airplane seat, an orange buoy, and other debris and signs of fuel in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean as they hunted for a missing Air France jet that carried 228 people. The pilots spotted two areas of floating debris, but no signs of life, about 60 kilometers, 35 miles, apart, about 410 miles, 650 kilometers, beyond the Brazilian archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, near Flight 447's path from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, said Air Force spokesman Jorge Amaral. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
Relatives of passengers of the Air France flight 447 are pictured through a glass door as they react at the Tom Jobim Airport in Rio de Janeiro, Monday, June 1, 2009. Air France flight 447carrying 228 people from Rio de Janeiro to Paris ran into a towering wall of thunderstorms and disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean. French President Nicolas Sarkozy told families of those aboard Monday that "prospects of finding survivors are very small." (AP Photo/ Ricardo Moraes)
Relatives of passengers of the Air France flight 447 are pictured through a glass door as they react at the Tom Jobim Airport in Rio de Janeiro, Monday, June 1, 2009. Air France flight 447carrying 228 people from Rio de Janeiro to Paris ran into a towering wall of thunderstorms and disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean. French President Nicolas Sarkozy told families of those aboard Monday that "prospects of finding survivors are very small." (AP Photo/ Ricardo Moraes)
Isabelle Birem, Air France's general director in Brazil, arrives for a press conference, in Sao Paulo, Monday, June 1, 2009. Air France flight 447, carrying 228 people from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, ran into a towering wall of thunderstorms and disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean. French President Nicolas Sarkozy told families of those aboard Monday that "prospects of finding survivors are very small." (AP Photo/ Andre Penner)
A man speaks to an Air France employee at the Air France check-in desk of the Tom Jobim Airport in Rio de Janeiro, Monday, June 1, 2009. Air France flight 447, carrying 228 people from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, ran into a towering wall of thunderstorms and disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean. French President Nicolas Sarkozy told families of those aboard Monday that "prospects of finding survivors are very small." (AP Photo/ Ricardo Moraes)
Members of the Brazilian Pelican military squad prepare to departure from Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, to take part in the search of an Air France jet that disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean, Monday, June 1, 2009. Air France flight 447, carrying 228 people from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, ran into a towering wall of thunderstorms and disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean. French President Nicolas Sarkozy told families of those aboard Monday that "prospects of finding survivors are very small." (AP Photo/Walbe, Correio do Estado) ** BRAZIL OUT **
Brazil's Vice President Jose Alencar, center, Rio de Janeiro's Governor Sergio Cabral, left, and Rio de Janeiro's Mayor Eduardo Paes, back second from left, arrive for a press conference after visiting relatives of passengers of the Air France flight 447 at the Tom Jobim Airport in Rio de Janeiro, Monday, June 1, 2009. Air France flight 447, carrying 228 people from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, ran into a towering wall of thunderstorms and disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean. French President Nicolas Sarkozy told families of those aboard Monday that "prospects of finding survivors are very small." (AP Photo/ Ricardo Moraes)
French President Nicolas Sarkozy

Friends of the three young Irish doctors exchanged text messages and checked personal websites on Monday night desperate to know if the women were abroad the ill-fated Air France jet.

The graduates from Trinity College Dublin (TCD) had their worst fears confirmed when the names of Aisling Butler, Jane Deasy and Eithne Walls flashed on their TV screens.

A doctor who attended TCD with the young women said all of the girls’ friends, who are spread in hospitals throughout the Republic, were texting each other to find out if the group had arrived home safely from their holiday in Brazil.

“Some of them were on a different flight and we were relieved after we checked Facebook, they said ‘glad to be home’,” she said.

“But then we were worried about the rest of the group and were watching the news and checking the text, it was only when their names came up on the screen around 11pm that we knew.”

She said Aisling, Jane and Eithne and another girl, Martha, who was not on board the flight, were “four best friends”.

“It’s unbelievable, everybody is shocked, it’s really awful,” added the friend.

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