Kenya cannot speed up the compensation process for victims of the Ethiopian Airlines crash because it is guided by international standards, grieving families have been told.
Government officials told relatives of the 36 victims that the matter rested with the Airline whose Flight ET302 crashed on March 10, killing all 157 people on board.
The officials also told the grieving relatives that the six-month window given by the Ethiopian authorities to identify the remains of the crash victims would not be enough.
The relatives had congregated in Nairobi in the first such meeting where they sought answers from the State regarding the accident, including compensation and finding closure for the dead.
Their requests on whether they could erect a monument to remember the dead, or if they could hire lawyers to handle the matter were politely but firmly rejected.
But Government officials, who included counsellors, promised to help them process paperwork such as death certificates, which are vital when settling estate matters.
Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau said the Government would only intervene if the victims were isolated when the compensation was finally paid.
“It is up to Ethiopian Airlines and the insurance, really, but any compensation is guided by global conventions,” he said during the meeting held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre.
The typical compensation for passengers who lose their lives in air accidents involving commercial planes is up to Sh17 million ($170,000).
Ambassador Kamau termed the identification of the victims’ remains as “very complex”, saying that they would take much longer than the promised six months.
“I think the target that the Ethiopian Airlines has given itself is very ambitious,” he told members of the victims’ families, and instead asked them to “…emotionally make a conscious decision not to watch the calendar.”
Airline officials had last week bowed to pressure from the victims’ families to carry out DNA analysis on their kins’ remains after initial reluctance to release body parts for burial. It later emerged that hardly any human remains could be identified due to severity of the plane crash.
This as it emerged that the pilot of the doomed flight did not practise on a new simulator for the Boeing 737 MAX 8, Reuters quoted a pilot colleague as saying.
Yared Getachew, 29, was due for refresher training at the end of March, his colleague said, two months after Ethiopian Airlines had received one of the first such simulators being distributed.
“Boeing did not send manuals on MCAS,” the Ethiopian Airlines pilot told Reuters in a hotel lobby, declining to give his name as staff have been told not to speak in public.
The Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) was developed for the 737 MAX to prevent stalls in flaps-retracted, low-speed, nose-up flight.
“Actually we know more about the MCAS system from the media than from Boeing.”
And the FBI has joined the criminal investigation into the certification of Boeing Co’s 737 MAX, the Seattle Times reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.