Families of the 157 people including 32 Kenyans who perished in the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday might never get bodies to take home for burial, Airline’s CEO has said.
The families, who traveled to Addis Ababa with the hope of retrieving their loved ones, will now have to live with memories of their kins after it was revealed that most of the bodies will never be recovered.
Speaking to BBC in an interview, the Airline’s CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said most of the bodies were reduced to ashes by the intense heat of the fire and only a few pieces have been recovered.
“By the time I reached the site on Sunday the plane was completely underground and there was no sign of it above the ground. We had to dig up the wreckage to try and find bodies.
“It is very sad that we were not able to get bodies. We only have very small pieces of the remains. That is the main challenge we have now,” Gebremariam said.
Earlier, the families are reported to have stormed out of a meeting with with Ethiopian Airlines staff in the Skylight Hotel near Bole International Airport.
They protested what they termed delay of information concerning identification of bodies.
The infuriated families, who had visited the crash site, decried lack of transparency in the whole exercise.
“We wanted to be told about DNA identification but they told us nothing. They were just offering condolences,” a Kenyan who lost her sister told an international media outlet. “I’m actually going home today because there is nothing here.”
Somber mood engulfed the crash site, with relatives pouring tributes to their loved ones, many expressing their great loss.
On Tuesday, the company had reported that the identification of bodies might take longer.
“The process of identifying the victims will take at least five days,” Ethiopian Airlines spokesman Asrat Begashawt told reporters.
However, due to the impact and the ensuing fire, the identification of some remains could take weeks or months and may need to be done via dental records on DNA.
The cause of the Sunday crash is still not clear, as the Airline announced that the Ethiopian government can’t get much from the recovered black box. It has since been taken to France for advanced analysis.
“The Ethiopian delegation led by the Chief investigator of Accident Investigation Bureau has arrived in the French Safety Investigation (BEA) facilities and the investigation process has started in Paris,” announced the airline today.
Some countries have grounded the Boeing Max planes over safety concerns, the recent one being the United States of America. Others include China, France, UK, Germany and France.
The crash that claimed all passengers on board, occurred near town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia six minutes after take off.