Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

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

Dr Eithne Walls
Dr Eithne Walls
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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