Dad of Ethiopia plane crash victim Joanna Toole had ‘concerns about her flying’

The father of  United Nations worker killed on the tragic Ethiopian Airlines flight admits he was concerned about number of flights she took.

Joanna Toole, 36, from Devon, was named as one of the seven British passengers who were among 157 people killed when the flight crashed shortly after take-off.

She was killed when the Boeing 737 Max 8 plane destined for Nairobi hit the ground six minutes after departing Addis Ababa on Sunday morning.

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

Ms Toole’s father Adrian, from Exmouth, told the DevonLive website that she was "genuinely one of those people who you never hear a bad word about".

"Everybody was very proud of her and the work she did, we’re still in a state of shock," he added.

He also told The Times: "I was very proud of her in the job she did but I was always querying how many flights she had to do.

"I can honestly say that in all the hundreds of flights she must have taken I didn’t want her to get on one.

"I don’t fly myself and I always felt nervous about her flying."

Manuel Barange, a UN director, said he was "profoundly sad and lost for words" over her death, saying she had been travelling to Nairobi to represent the organisation at the UN Environment Assembly.

The one Irish victim was married father-of-two Michael Ryan, who was based in Rome with the UN’s World Food Programme, which distributes rations to people in need.

The Foreign Office confirmed that at least seven Britons were on board flight ET302, which crashed in Ethiopia at about 8.45am local time, leaving no survivors.

Ethiopian Airlines said it had contacted the families of all victims, who came from 35 nations.

Mr Ryan, an aid worker and engineer known as Mick and formerly from Lahinch in Co Clare, was celebrated for "doing life-changing work in Africa" by Irish premier Leo Varadkar.

His projects included creating safe ground for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and assessing the damage to rural roads in Nepal which were blocked by landslides.

As many as 19 UN workers were feared to have been killed in the crash, the number being so high because of its environmental forum due to start on Monday.

Also among the dead was polar tourism expert Sarah Auffret, who was making her way to Nairobi to discuss tackling plastic pollution in the seas at the UN assembly, according to her Norway-based employers Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO).

The University of Plymouth graduate held dual French-British citizenship, Norwegian media reported.

Raised in Brittany, the environmental agent was leading AECO’s efforts to cut back single-use plastics on Arctic expeditions and coordinating beach clean-ups.

Joseph Waithaka, a 55-year-old who lived in Hull for a decade before moving back to his native Kenya, also died in the crash, his son told the Hull Daily Mail.

Ben Kuria, who lives in London, said his father had worked for the Probation Service, adding: "He helped so many people in Hull who had found themselves on the wrong side of the law."

Prime Minister Theresa May said she was "deeply saddened" to learn of the disaster, and offered her thoughts to everyone "affected by this tragic incident".

The victims’ identities started to emerge with Slovakian MP Anton Hrnko saying "in deep grief" that his wife and two children were killed in the crash.

Aid workers, doctors and a prominent football official were also believed to be among the dead.

While the cause is not yet known, the crash shared similarities with last year’s Lion Air jet plunging into the Java sea, killing 189. That also involved a Boeing 737 Max 8 crashing minutes after takeoff.

On Sunday, visibility was clear but air traffic monitor Flightradar24 said "vertical speed was unstable after take off".

The pilot had sent out a distress call and was given the all clear to return, according to the airline’s chief executive Tewolde Gebremariam.

Senior captain Yared Getachew had a "commendable performance" having completed more than 8,000 hours in the air, the airline said.

The plane had flown from Johannesburg to Addis earlier on Sunday morning, and had undergone a "rigorous" testing on February 4, a statement continued.

An eyewitness told the BBC there was an intense fire when the plane crashed.

"The blast and the fire were so strong that we couldn’t get near it," he said. "Everything is burnt down."

Mr Gebremariam was pictured leafing through what little was left of the wreckage as he visited the freshly ground earth under the blue sky of Ethiopia’s capital.

Many of the passengers were from Kenya, but others were said to be from Italy, France, the US, Canada, Ethiopia, China, Egypt, Germany, Slovakia and India.

A statement from Boeing said the manufacturer was "deeply saddened" to learn of the disaster, adding that it was sending a technical team to the crash site.

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