AFP, Reuters/Addis Ababa
Identifying the cause of the deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people and caused the worldwide grounding of a brand-new Boeing aircraft model will take “considerable time,” an Ethiopian government minister said yesterday.
The crash of Flight ET 302 minutes into its flight to Nairobi on March 10 killed all onboard and caused the worldwide grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft model involved in the disaster.
“The investigation of such magnitude requires a careful analysis and considerable time to come up with something concrete,” Transport Minister Dagmawit Moges told a press conference.
Witnesses said the plane nose-dived into remote farmland southeast of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, reducing the plane to small pieces of debris buried deep in the earth.
The victims came from 35 countries.
Dagmawit said it would take up to six months to identify remains, and family members were being encouraged to submit DNA samples in Addis Ababa or at Ethiopian Airlines offices overseas.
Death certificates would be issued in two weeks, she added.
A relative of one of the crash victims who asked not to named expressed frustration with the wait for remains.
The person said that under the victim’s Jewish faith, no funeral could be held until his remains were returned, and the six-month delay was distressing for his family.
“They are in immense pressure and remorse as it is, without waiting half a year,” the relative said.
As families wait for the results from the investigation into the cause of the crash, Ethiopian Airlines is planning to hold a service today in Addis Ababa, at the Kidist Selassie, or Holy Trinity Cathedral, where many of the country’s past rulers are buried beneath its pink stone spires.
“We were told by the company that we will be given a kilo (of earth) each for burial at Selassie Church for a funeral they will organise,” said one family member who asked not to be named.
Abdulmajid Sheriff, a Kenyan whose Yemeni brother-in-law died, said the family had already held a service.
“We are Muslims we didn’t care about that (earth). We did yesterday our prayers at the mosque and that is all for us.”
The crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 was the second deadly incidence for the 737 MAX 8 following the October crash of an Indonesian Lion Air jet that killed all 189 passengers and crew.
The Boeing 737 MAX 8 is a brand-new jet.
The crash of two of them in the space of just a few months, coupled with similarities in the circumstances, led countries and airlines around the world to ground the plane.
A preliminary report into the Lion Air disaster was published a month after the crash.
The Ethiopian plane’s voice and flight data recorders are in Paris, where French, Ethiopian and American investigators will try to determine what went wrong.
Dagmawit said France was chosen to analyse the flight recorders due to its relative proximity to Ethiopia.
France’s air accident investigation agency said yesterday it was working on the black boxes in co-ordination with teams from Boeing as well as US and EU aviation safety authorities.
The grounding of the 737 MAX jets has had no immediate financial impact on airlines using the planes, but it will get painful for the industry the longer they do not fly, companies and analysts said on Friday.
Boeing plans to release upgraded software for the 737 MAX in a week to 10 days, sources familiar with the matter said.
The US planemaker has been working on a software upgrade for an anti-stall system and pilot displays on its fastest-selling jetliner in the wake of the deadly Lion Air crash.
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