Thousands of people have mourned Ethiopian victims of the Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crash, as 17 empty caskets draped in the national flag were accompanied through the streets of the capital, Addis Ababa.
The funeral service came one day after officials began delivering bags of earth to family members of the 157 victims instead of the remains of their loved ones because the identification process is expected to take a long time.
Family members confirmed they were given a 1kg sack of scorched earth taken from the crash site. Many relatives have already visited the rural, dusty crash site outside Addis Ababa.
The victims came from 35 countries and included many humanitarian workers headed to Nairobi.
Elias Bilew said he had worked with one of them, Sintayehu Shafi, for the past eight years. “He was such a good person,” Bilew said. “He doesn’t deserve this. He was the pillar for his whole family.”
As friends and families grieved, investigators in Paris continued their work on the planes’ black boxes. They have been sent to France because the French air accident investigation agency BEA has extensive expertise in analysing such devices.
Experts from the US National Transportation Safety Board and the plane’s manufacturer Boeing are among those involved in the investigation.
The US Federal Aviation Administration has said satellite-based tracking data shows that the movements of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 were similar to those of Lion Air flight 610, which crashed off Indonesia in October, killing 189 people. Both involved Boeing 737 Max 8 planes.
The planes in both crashes flew with erratic altitude changes that could indicate the pilots struggled to control the aircraft. Shortly after their takeoffs, both crews tried to return to the airports but crashed.
The US and many other countries have now grounded the Max 8s as Boeing faces the challenge of proving the jets are safe to fly amid suspicions that faulty sensors and software contributed to the two crashes that killed 346 people in less than six months.