By Samuel Ouma | @journalist_27
Ethiopian Airlines management has revealed that family and relatives of victims of last Sunday’s plane crash will have to wait till September to know the DNA results.
According to the industry experts, the identification process is set to take long because there are 33 different nationalities on board and Ethiopia has limited labs to do the tests locally.
Families have been urged to issue DNA samples at a point of origin through Ethiopian Airlines Group closest to them or at Skylight Hotel in Addis Ababa.
Meanwhile, the company has offered to return personal belongings and give death certificates in two months and two weeks respectively.
“Personal belongings of the deceased will be returned to the next of kin after a proper verification approximately within two months,” read the statement.
On Friday, March 15, sorrow engulfed the atmosphere at Bishoftu, crash site, when families, relatives and friends of 32 departed souls of Kenyans gathered to pay last homage to the deceased after a long battle with the airline authority. They had been denied access to the scene.
Emotions ran high; they laid down flowers and portraits of their loved ones they had come with. Others wailed and some knelt down to pray.
An order from the Ethiopian government to stand a distance away from the site elicited more pain. They only spotted a crater caused by the plane as heavy military was deployed to guard the area. They were allowed to take soil from the site.
They are between a rock and a hard place whether to wait for DNA analysis or use the soil for mock funerals. Only small pieces of body parts were recovered.
“Mourners have been gathering at our home since Sunday afternoon when we got the news. They are waiting for me to take back home something for the burial. But if we burry, what will we do with the remains when they hand them back to us?” asked Ms. Prudence Lwugi, who lost her brother in the crash.
Others have appealed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to organize official soil sample transportation with a small portion put in 32 small boxes, each with the name of the a victim.
“We can receive the boxes at the airport, put them in coffins and have a mass at Uhuru Park then families transport caskets for burial.” said Lucas Nzioka, who lost his nephew.
Some communities will have to bury logs if the bodies of their loved ones cannot be found as dictated by their cultures.
“Other cultural practices like slaughtering of animals are done when the log is being buried. The assumption is that people are burying the person who died,” reiterated Nyandiko Ongadi, Chairman of Luo Council of Elders.
Flight ET 302 came down at Bishoftu, few minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa on Sunday. All passengers on board perished.