Harrsion Kivisu and Seth Onyango @PeopleDailyKe
The grief of the families of the 157 victims aboard the Ethiopian Airlines plane which crashed last Sunday has been compounded by the grim reality that nearly all the bodies were burnt beyond recognition.
As emotionally drained family members gathered at Skylight Hotel in Addis Ababa yesterday, it was clear that it may take some time before all the bodies are identified through DNA tests.
An expert involved in the search and retrieval told People Daily that the exercise, given the numbers, is not expected to happen as fast as might have been anticipated by relatives. Some bodies may only be identified by hair, he said, adding that for such family members, closure may take longer than may have been expected.
Further complicating the identification efforts is the fact that for religious reasons, Muslim and Jewish victims are supposed to be buried 48 hours after death, a requirement that was causing tension with the Israeli Embassy officials in Addis Ababa who demanded to be allowed to join the identification process.
Meanwhile in what was supposed to be a happy ending of a mission to trace their roots in the coastal region of Kenya, seven members of a Canadian family’s journey ended in a tragedy after they all perished in the Sunday morning crash.
The Brampton family — Prerit Dixit, 43, his parents and Kosha Vaidya, 37, with their two daughters Ashka, 14 and Anushka Dixit, 13, — were heading to Kenya where Vaidya was to take her daughters to her birthplace. Her parents Pannagesh Vaidya, 73, and Hansini, 67, who also perished, had accompanied her. They were among the 18 Canadian nationals who lost their lives in Flight 302 crash.
Others who perished included USA (8), Egypt (6), China (8), Ethiopia (9), Netherlands (5), UK (7), Russia (3), France (7), Italy (8).
In Nakuru, the world of John Quindos Karanja a former teacher aged 61was turned on its head by the news that five family members, including wife and three grandchildren, were among the 32 Kenyan victims.
Karanja had travelled to Nairobi in anticipation of arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport of the loved ones — his wife Anne Wangui, daughter Caroline Karanja and her three children.
Meanwhile, special prayers for the pilot of the ill-fated Ethiopian plane Yared Tessema Getachew were held in Mombasa yesterday at the Baluchi Mosque after the evening (Magharib) prayers.
Getachew was born of a Kenyan mother, Rayan Shapi of Mombasa and Getachew Tessema who originally came from Ethiopia. The parents reside in Nairobi.
Yared, 29, went to Oshwal High School in Nairobi and according
to the airlines Group CEO, Tewolde Gebre-Mariam, was already a senior pilot who had been flying the same plane since November 2007.
The Ethiopian Airlines B737-MAX aircraft, with 157 people on board, including eight crew members, was flying from Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport to Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
Meanwhile the Consul and Head of Administration in the Embassy of Israel in Ethiopia Ophir Dach decried the slow pace at which the DNA analysis was being done and called on the Ethiopian government to allow his team to take over the process to help speed up the retrieval of the bodies of the two Israelis who had died in the crash.
Dach insisted the duo have to be buried according to Jewish rituals and vowed not to leave until the bodies were identified.
“We are here to look for our people because according Judaism, we have to bury them within 48 hours…these people are wasting our time, we want to go the scene and search our people,” said an irate Dach.
Noordin Abdulkadir, a Kenyan, who lost his mother and brother said they were travelling from Germany.