Former royal, Riverdance star among plane’s missing

The front page of a Brazil newspaper reports on the disappearance of the plane's 228 passengers and crew.
The disappearance of an Air France flight from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to Paris, France, remains a mystery, but those involved in the search said it is likely that the plane’s 216 passengers and 12 crew members are dead.

Among those on board were a member of Brazil’s former royal family, a one-time performer with the Riverdance troupe, a Rio city official, executives from major international companies and an 11-year-old British schoolboy. Pedro Luis de Orleans e Braganca, 26, was a descendant of the family that ruled Brazil until 1889, a branch of the former Portuguese royal family. The Orleans and Braganca family considered him to be fourth in line to the throne. Pedro Luis was the oldest son of Prince Antonio and Princess Christine, the family said. He was the only member of the family on the flight, his relatives said. Eithne Walls, who danced with with Riverdance on Broadway, was also on the plane, said Julian Erskine, senior executive producer of the troupe. “I never saw her without a smile on her face,” Erskine said in a statement. “It is hard to believe that such a bright light could be quenched so early and while burning so brilliantly.” She joined the Irish dance troupe in 1998 and performed with them for most of a decade, studying medicine at the same time, Erskine said. “Anyone who traveled with Eithne will remember the medical books always on the go and her constant attention to her studies,” he said. “Without doubt she was someone with a rich future stretching out ahead of her.”

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The passengers on Flight 447 also included Marcelo Parente, chief of staff in the office of Rio de Janeiro’s mayor. Two executives of Michelin, one of the world’s leading tire manufacturers, also were aboard the plane, a Michelin spokeswoman said. They were Luiz Roberto Anastacio, president of Michelin Latin America, and Antonio Gueiros, another top regional executive. Michelin employee Christine Pieraerts was also among the passengers, the company said. The spokeswoman said that Michelin was saddened by the tragedy. Alexander Bjoroy, 11, was on his way home to England after a vacation in Brazil, the headmaster of his school said. He was a “well-liked and respected boarder who will be sorely missed by his fellow pupils and staff,” said John Milne, the head of Clifton College Preparatory School in Bristol, England. Milne expressed the school’s “deepest sympathies” to the boy’s family. The passengers included 61 people from France, 58 Brazilians, 26 Germans and people from 29 other countries, Air France said. An official list of victims by name was not available early Tuesday, but two Americans — Michael Harris, 60, and his wife, Anne, 54 — were identified by the couple’s family and his employer. “Anne and Mike were indeed a beautiful couple inside and out, and I miss them terribly already,” said Anne Harris’ sister, Mary Miley.

Michael Harris was a geologist in Rio de Janeiro for Devon Energy, a U.S.-based natural gas and oil producer, according to a company spokesman. The Harrises were traveling to Paris for a training seminar and vacation, Miley said.