Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Former royal, Riverdance star among plane's missing

PARIS, France (CNN) -- Friends and relatives of the 216 passengers and 12 crew members on Air France Flight 447 are coming to terms with the news that wreckage from the flight was found in the Atlantic Ocean.

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 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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