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WHO says spokesman headed for AIDS conference was aboard crashed jetliner

Fire engines arrive at the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Hrabove, Ukraine, as the sun sets Thursday, July 17, 2014. Ukraine said a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday as it flew over the country, and both the government and the pro-Russia separatists fighting in the region denied any responsibility for downing the plane. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

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Fire engines arrive at the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Hrabove, Ukraine, as the sun sets Thursday, July 17, 2014. Ukraine said a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday as it flew over the country, and both the government and the pro-Russia separatists fighting in the region denied any responsibility for downing the plane. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

GENEVA - The World Health Organization says its spokesman Glenn Thomas was on board the Malaysian jetliner that was shot down over Ukraine.

Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for the Geneva-based U.N. health agency, says the 49-year-old Briton was travelling to Melbourne, Australia, to attend the 20th International AIDS conference, which starts Sunday.

Hartl told reporters Friday in Geneva that Thomas, who regularly briefed journalists and responded to media requests for interviews and comment, had been with WHO for more than a decade.

He said Thomas "will be remembered for his ready laugh and his passion for public health."

Hartl says no other U.N. employees were aboard the plane, which was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and crashed Thursday with 298 people on board.

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