Anguished families of Ethiopian plane crash victims find nothing to bury

More families arrive at the site of the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people

More families arrived at the site of the Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 14, 2019. (AP)

It was too much to bear. She feared she would have nothing of her loved one, no body, no remains to bury.

She took handfuls of dirt and flung it in her own face, overcome.

More families arrived on Thursday at the site of the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people. They came with the hope that they could bring some trace of their loved ones home.

Some fell to their knees in grief when they learned there was nothing left. Others hurled themselves forward, wailing, or staggered in relatives’ arms.

The mourning was mixed with frustration. For some, their beliefs dictated they must have something to bury.

READ MORE: Canada bans Boeing 737 Max 8 plane following fatal Ethiopian crash

“Big families, a lot of people and the full Israeli nation is waiting for these remains and we will not go out of Ethiopia until we find the remains to bury them,” said Moshi Biton of Israel, who lost his brother, Shimon Daniel Re’em Biton.

“Because if not, they will stay missing for the rest of the life and we cannot do that in our religion.”

Some Muslim families fretted. A body must be buried as soon as possible.

All gathered at the rural, dusty crash site outside Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. The dead came from 35 countries.

Some families, including that of the flight’s senior pilot, Capt. Yared Getachew, came bearing large framed photographs of the dead. In one, a victim wore a graduate’s cap and gown, a source of immense pride.

Others arriving wore black T-shirts printed with a photo in remembrance. They held sticks of incense, the flames flaring in the wind.

One man held a tiny, torn scrap of document showing a photo of one of the dead.

In the background, searchers carrying large clear plastic bags continued to move slowly through the rubble, looking for more.

Some relatives at the scene expressed frustration, saying authorities were not sharing the information they badly needed.

An airline spokesman on Wednesday said some remains had been found and were in a freezer awaiting the forensic DNA work needed for identifications.

On Thursday it was no longer clear how long that work, once estimated at five days or more, would take. Israel’s consul to Ethiopia, Opher Dach, suggested the remains would be sent to a laboratory Britain.

The airline, overwhelmed with requests, announced it would take no more questions from reporters and would post any developments on social media and its website.

Even at an airline briefing for families in Addis Ababa some tearful relatives stormed out, demanding more.

Mulugeta Ayene And Cara Anna, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Young Muslims offer helping hand to isolated residents throughout Lower Mainland

Neighbourhood Helper campaign aims to get help to people who can’t leave their homes

White Rock’s promenade to close to the public

Public access to popular waterfront walkway closing April 10: city

Christopherson Steps, 1,001 Steps closed due to COVID-19

Access restricted to Crescent Beach over Easter weekend, City of Surrey announces

LETTER: With a long road of recovery ahead, Surrey must keep RCMP

To change for the sake of change shows weak leadership, inability to understand needs of community

Urban Safari Rescue Society starts online video presentations

Animal shelter struggling to stay afloat during pandemic

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

B.C. sorting medical equipment sales, donation offers for COVID-19

Supply hub has call out for masks, gowns, coronavirus swabs

B.C. records five more deaths due to COVID-19, 45 new cases

A total of 838 people have recovered from the virus

Major crimes investigating sudden death of North Okanagan child

The 8 year old was flown to Kelowna General Hospital and died hours later

BC institution has highest number of positive results for COVID-19

11 inmates in Mission test positive for coronavirus, more than any other federal prison in Canada

Easter Bunny added to B.C.’s list of essential workers

Premier John Horgan authorizes bunny to spread “eggs-ellent cheer” throughout province

Travellers returning to B.C. must have self-isolation plan or face quarantine: Horgan

Premier John Horgan says forms must be filled out by travellers

More than 400 animals have been adopted amid pandemic: B.C. SPCA

People are taking this time of social distancing to find a loyal companion through the animal welfare group

Most Read