Families of air crash victims return home without closure
SEE ALSO :‘Resurrected’ Ethiopian man diesTheir rush to the accident scene is informed by their faith that requires that the dead be buried within 24 hours, and no more than 48 hours – in very extreme scenarios. Yesterday, they flew back home - closure eluding them, forever out of reach, slipping through their fingers like the dry wind that blew over the accident scene. Dealing with the loss was not expected to be easy, but the families say the authorities in the twin capitals of Nairobi and Addis Ababa only exacerbated an already precarious situation. New information on the tragic crash shows that the plane was in trouble as soon as it took off from Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, even as family members return home empty handed. An investigation by American newspaper New York Times shows that controllers at Bole observed that the aircraft, a new Boeing 737 Max 8, was oscillating up and down by hundreds of feet — a sign that something was extraordinarily wrong. This was even before the pilot communicated to the control tower requesting permission to turn back in what sources close to the investigation termed as “a panicky voice” barely three minutes after the plane had taken off.
SEE ALSO :KQ moves to wrap up airport takeoverIt did not happen; in any case it was only a matter of time before the majority, worn off from uncertain waiting would go back home. To a large extent, the authorities were right. By Thursday morning, the frustration had got out of hand and the victims’ family members put their foot down, this time around. A meeting called by the airline authorities aborted just a few minutes after kicking off, prompting the intervention of security officials who roughed up louder protesters. As the tempers cooled off towards the afternoon, tens of other mourning family members arrived, the first batch of beneficiaries of the airline-sponsored travel. Many are thought to be parents to the victims who perished, going by their ageing looks, taking their first flight ever on a mission they would only shudder to imagine – looking for the bodies of family members. They just missed a morning meeting with Ethiopian Airlines authorities and the Kenyan Embassy in the city, but in time for another where the scientists started collecting samples for onward DNA matching. The heated morning meeting gave a pointer to the tough days ahead for both the families and the Ethiopian Government over the unresolved accident that cost 157 lives, with Kenyan citizens as the single biggest group of casualties. Demanded answers Hundreds of the grieving families had demanded answers on when the remains would be released and the progress of identification. But the airline officials informed them that none of that was their responsibility, instead passing the buck to Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health - which received and secured the body parts, and the Ethiopian Police. Remains of the victims are believed to be currently stored at the Menelik Hospital Mortuary in the city- but there has been no independent confirmation. Several of the families that managed to reach the “graveside” collected soil that they plan to bury back home in symbolic funerals.