Africa

Relatives mourn Ethiopia plane crash dead

PCeremonies have been held in Ethiopia and Kenya for the 157 victims of last week’s Ethiopia Airlines plane crash.

Relatives wept and threw themselves on the red coffins of the 12 Ethiopian victims at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Some of the coffins contained charred earth from the crash site because it has not been possible to recover the bodies.

Families have been told it could take up to six months to identify remains.

Ethiopian Airlines staff gathered at the city’s Bole International Airport to pay their respects to the crew on the Boeing 737 MAX 8 flight 302 to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, Reuters news agency reports.

In Nairobi, relatives of some of the 36 Kenyan victims, and diplomats from some of the more than 30 countries whose citizens died in the crash, gathered to pay their respects at an Ethiopian Orthodox church in the city.

The BBC’s Ferdinand Omondi, who was at the ceremony, says there was a sombre mood as candles were lit and prayers held. Many worshippers were wearing white from head to toe.

Some relatives told the BBC reporter that they would only get full closure when at least some body parts were handed over to them.

Families mourning the victims were offered a 1kg (2.2lbs) bag of charred soil to bury as part of Sunday’s service in the Ethiopian capital, AP news agency reports.

“The soil came as it became impossible to identify bodies and hand over remains to family members,” one family member reportedly said, adding: “We will not rest until we are given the real body or body parts of our loved ones.”

Relatives of the passengers killed in the incident are being encouraged to provide DNA samples either in Addis Ababa or at any overseas offices of Ethiopian Airlines.

Death certificates are expected to be issued in two weeks.

Mourners at the Bole International Airport held white flowers, the traditional colour of mourning in Ethiopia.

“Our deep sorrow cannot bring them back,” an Orthodox priest wearing a black turban and robes told the crowd gathered outside an airport hangar.

“This is the grief of the world,” he said, as Ethiopian Airlines staff sobbed in each other’s arms, Reuters reports.

Countries across the world grounded the 737 Max 8 and 9 aircraft after the 10 March crash. –BBC

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