Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Family of Riverdance star on doomed Air France flight to hold memorial

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

The family of Dr Eithne Walls intends to hold a memorial service in Northern Ireland to honour her, the Belfast Telegraph understands.

The 28-year-old Riverdance star, from Ballygowan, Co Down, is presumed dead after the ill-fated Air France flight crashed into the Atlantic sea on Monday.

She was returning after a two week holiday, along with best friends Jane Deasy and Aisling Butler, who are also doctors, from Rio de Janeiro to Paris when disaster struck.

Her heartbroken family — father Raymond, mother Mary, brothers Raymond and Gerard and sister Kathryn — responded to the news by releasing a poignant statement describing their feelings of “inconsolable loss”.

Brazilian and French navy vessels yesterday continued to search the water after two sightings of debris were reported in areas about 35 miles apart.

But as the Walls family — and the many others who have also been bereaved — face an agonising wait for further details to emerge, crash investigators warned that the truth behind France's worst air disaster may never come to light.

It emerged yesterday that the pilot of the doomed AF 447 may have tried to return to Brazil after getting into difficulties.

Rescuers said that debris found close to the last known position of the lost Airbus 400 miles north of Brazil suggested the aircraft may have turned around in an attempt to make an emergency landing.

Distraught relatives who had prayed for a miracle have almost certainly given up hope as experts now seem certain that all aboard died on the flight.

No bodies have yet been spotted in the sea on flyovers by the air force.

If no survivors are found it will be the world’s worst civil aviation disaster since the November 2001 crash of an American Airlines jet in New York’s Queens borough, which killed 265 people.

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