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Irish dad Michael Ryan killed on Ethiopian Airlines jet which crashed minutes after takeoff

Micheal 'Mick' Ryan
Micheal 'Mick' Ryan

By Ralph Riegel, Denise Calnan and Micheal O Scannail

The Irish passenger who died on an Ethiopian Airlines plane which crashed just minutes after takeoff has been named locally as Irish developmental aid worker Michael 'Mick' Ryan.

Mr Ryan, a native of Lahinch, Co Clare, had been working with the United Nations world food programme.

Tragically, the accident occurred just weeks before he was to relocate with his wife, Naoise, and their two young children from Ireland to Italy.

Mr Ryan was described in both Lahinch and Ennistymon, where he boasted many friends, as "a wonderful, compassionate man who lived for his job of helping others."

He is the son of Christina and the late Jack Ryan. His mother is a retired teacher who was based at Scoil Mhuire in Ennistymon.

His late father, Jack, who died in 2013, was a respected accountant in Clare.

Mr Ryan is survived by his siblings, Cristin, Siobhan and Tiernan.

In a special message, the Lahinch Parish extended the sympathies of the entire community to the Ryan family.

"We pray for all who have died so unexpectedly in this tragedy, their families, colleagues and friends.

"We pray for all working at the accident site at this present moment.

"We hope that God will bless everyone in this tragedy for so many people."

Mr Ryan was one of Ireland's most respected developmental aid workers. He had worked on various UN programmes across the world including high profile projects in both Africa and Asia. He was especially proud of a project he had worked on for the UN in Bangladesh.

It is understood he was flying to a development project in Africa when the tragedy occurred.

The Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX aircraft crashed just six minutes after it took off from Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa.

The flight left Bole airport in Addis Ababa at 8.38 am local time, before losing contact with the control tower just a few minutes later at 8.44 am.

"There are no survivors onboard the flight, which carried passengers from 33 countries," said state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation, quoting an unidentified source at the airline.

The CEO of Ethiopian Airlines looks at the wreckage of the plane (Facebook via AP)
The CEO of Ethiopian Airlines looks at the wreckage of the plane (Facebook via AP)

All 157 people on board perished in the tragedy.

It has now emerged the pilot reported difficulties with the aircraft, which is just four months old, and had been granted permission to return to Addis Ababa.

The death toll included citizens from at least 33 countries.

The airline's CEO told journalists at a press conference today that the victims included 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians, eight Italians, eight Chinese citizens, eight Americans, seven British citizens, seven French citizens, six Egyptians, five Dutch citizens, four Indians, four people from Slovakia, three Austrians, three Swedes, three Russians, two Moroccans, two Spaniards, two Poles and two Israelis.

Belgium, Indonesia, Somalia, Norway, Serbia, Togo, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda and Yemen each had one citizen onboard.

Four of those onboard were listed as using United Nations passports and their nationalities were not immediately clear.

Rescuers use a digger at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed shortly after take-off (Yidnek Kirubel/AP)
Rescuers use a digger at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed shortly after take-off (Yidnek Kirubel/AP)

The airline CEO told journalists there was "one Irish passport holder" on board. Mr Ryan was the only Irish national on board.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it was doing everything possible to assist the family involved.

"The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is aware of the incident, and we stand ready to provide consular assistance if requested."

The chief executive of Ethiopian Airlines Tewolde Gebremariam visited the crash site some 60km from the capital and extended his sympathies to all the families involved.

Mr Gerbremariam confirmed that the pilot had reported difficulties and asked to turn back due to  "no known technical problems".

The airline boss said the pilot involved had an excellent safety record.

One report from Ethiopia has indicated the brand new plane had an unstable vertical speed in the minutes before the tragedy.

It is the second fatal accident involving the brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet in the past six months.

A Lion Air plane crashed shortly after takeoff in Indonesia on October 29 2018 resulting in the death of all 189 passengers and crew.

While Boeing refused to comment on whether there will be an investigation into the model or if any planes will be recalled, a spokesperson for the aerospace company told the Independent.ie that they are prepared to dispatch a technical team to assist with the Ethiopian airline crash.

"Boeing is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a 737 MAX 8 airplane," he said.

"We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew on board and stand ready to support the Ethiopian Airlines team.

"A Boeing technical team is prepared to provide technical assistance at the request and under the direction of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board."

Meanwhile, another United Nations worker has been named as one of the seven British passengers who were among 157 people killed.

Joanna Toole, a 36-year-old from Devon, was said to have been among those killed on the Boeing 737 Max 8 plane destined for Nairobi when it hit the ground six minutes after departing Addis Ababa on Sunday morning.

Colleagues at the United Nations fisheries and aquaculture department described her as a "wonderful human being", while her father said she was a "very soft and loving" woman.

Additional reporting from PA

Irish Independent

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