Canadians travel to Ethiopian crash site to search for loved ones' remains
CTVNews.ca Staff, with a report from CTV’s London Bureau Chief Paul Workman
Published Thursday, March 14, 2019 12:45PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, March 14, 2019 10:00PM EDT
Weeping family members gathered Thursday in a remote field in rural Ethiopia as crews scoured for the remains of those killed in the Ethiopia Airlines crash, but many fear they’ll never be able to bury their loved ones.
A steady stream of families passed through the crash site in Hejere, about 50 kilometres from the capital of Addis Ababa, many of them overwhelmed by grief. Nearby, tractors plowed through piles of debris searching for bodies and belongings of the 157 victims.
Passengers and crew from 35 countries were killed in Sunday’s crash, including 18 Canadians. Some of their remains have been found and are being kept in a freezer, an airline spokesperson said earlier this week. But many more remain missing.
Parul Lahoti from Toronto travelled to Ethiopia in hopes of retrieving the body of his brother, Danny, who he spoke with one last time on FaceTime before he boarded the ill-fated flight.
“His bags were all packed, ready to go, and I knew he was wearing a red shirt and those are some of the moments – the latest moments – I keep as a treasure with me now,” Lahoti told CTV News.
He visited the field where investigators carrying large plastic bags combed through the debris. After seeing the wreckage first-hand, Lahoti has doubts he’ll ever find his brother.
“By looking at the crash site yesterday, I don’t think that there’s anything else that we can retrieve out of there,” he said.
It’s the same situation for Allison Wong from British Columbia, who travelled to Ethiopia with her family to locate the body of her father.
"We’re here to bring the body back,” she said. “That’s the thing keeping us here.”
Wong’s father was in the midst of applying for Canadian immigration and travelled to Kenya to retrieve some documents he needed. Now, the family says, they’ve been given few answers from Ethiopia Airlines.
“The longer time we stay here, we will feel more sad,” she said.
Flight recorders from Ethiopia Airlines Flight 302 arrived in France Thursday, where they will be assessed by the French air accident investigation authority. Officials have not given a time frame of how long the investigation will take.
Several countries, including Canada, have grounded their Boeing 737 Max 8 jets in response to the crash.