Ill-fated plane dug up a 10m crater on impact

The plane tried to climb before it made a sharp turn and came down. [Photo, Courtesy]

The Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed on Sunday, killing all 157 people aboard, was trailing smoke and making a strange sound before it came down, two witnesses said.

Malka Galato, the farmer whose land the plane crashed on, told Reuters he saw small items that looked like paper coming from the plane. The plane was making a strange noise and made a sudden turn just before it crashed, he said.

The plane tried to climb before it made a sharp turn and came down, farmer Tamirat Abera added.

The plane rammed the ground at lightning speed, digging upto ten metres into the ground, explaining in part the extent of the damage to the Boeing 737 Max 8 jet.

On the ground in Ijera village, some 140km by road from Bole International Airport, investigators dug around the crater created by the crash as they collected what would unravel the mystery surrounding the accident.

On site were at least six excavators that were deployed to dig out the accident scene in a bid to dig out all debris, most of which had been taken away for forensic investigations.

Blackbox from the plane had been recovered by last evening when The Standard team arrived at the scene where fragments of the plane, personal belongings of the victims and body parts were scattered.

Information from the equipment would be central to the investigation including revealing the last moments after the flight Captain Yared Getachew unsuccessfully sought to return to Bole International Airport after the aircraft developed mechanical problems.

People involved in the prior investigations indicated that the pilots had sounded a warning relating to his inability to control the plane which had taken an unprecedented nosedive before hitting the ground and breaking to parts.

Kenyan officials including Transport Principal Secretary Esther Koimett and the Kenyan Ambassador to Addis Ababa Catherine Mwangi were on ground zero as they sought to follow the unfolding events of the probe.

Ms Koimett told The Standard that Ethiopian Authorities would be responsible for carrying out DNA analysis from samples collected from the badly dismembered bodies to determine ownership of the victims.

Ethiopian Authorities had managed to collect the body parts on Sunday, the same day the plane went down, and moved them to Menelik Hospital.

It is not clear how soon the DNA analysis would be done but it would certainly be a complex affair that would involve matching the victims’ bodies with that of their relatives.

But Ethiopian Airlines had earlier in the day confirmed that it would be facilitating any relatives of the victims including offering them accommodation at the firm’s Skylight Hotel, just outside the Bole International Airport.

Desperate family members of at least 10 victims had arrived in the Ethiopian Capital by mid yesterday before The Standard team embarked on the treacherous journey to the crash site, but had requested not to grant interviews until they were officially cleared.

Americans at the site said engineers from the plane manufacturer and air crash investigators from the US are expected this morning to join the probe, which has caused sorrow in many countries.

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157 peopleEthiopian Airlines planeBoeing 737 Max 8