ADDIS ABABA — Bouquets of white roses surrounded aviation staff as they gathered at Bole International Airport on Sunday to remember the two pilots and six crew, who perished along with 149 passengers in the Ethiopia Airlines crash a week ago.
Weeping women held slender single stems in their shaking hands. Banks of the white flowers, the traditional color of mourning, were placed in front of a row of empty coffins at the ceremony.
A band — some of the musicians in tears — temporarily stopped playing as band members ran to comfort bereaved relatives who lunged forward, wailing in grief over the coffins.
“Our deep sorrow cannot bring them back,” an Orthodox priest in a traditional black turban and black robes told the crowd gathered outside an airport hangar.
“This is the grief of the world,” he said, as Ethiopian Airlines staff sobbed in each other’s arms.
Ethiopian Airlines says the deceased will be returned to the bereaved by mid-September
Here’s the terrifying reason Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 is grounded across the globe
18 Canadians among 157 dead after Ethiopian Airlines plane crash near Addis Ababa
At least the crash had taken place in Ethiopia — the holy land — he said, prompting “amens” from the crowd.
In faraway Paris, investigators are examining black box recorders to determine why the aircraft plunged into a field shortly after take off from Addis Ababa, searching for similarities to an October Lion Air crash that killed 189 people.
Both crashes involved the same model of plane — a Boeing 737 MAX 8 — causing aviation authorities to ground the model around the world after last week’s accident.
But in the Ethiopian capital, families and airline staff were focused on honoring their dead.
At the airport memorial, a banner offered “deepest condolences and comfort” to the families of the deceased crew.
A female flight attendant spoke warmly of the deceased captain, Yared Getachew.
“He was a really nice person, a good person, all the words you can find to talk about a good person apply. He was a very kind human being,” she said, before dissolving in tears.
A service for the families of passengers, who came from more than 30 countries, was also held beneath the pink stone spires of Addis Ababa’s Holy Trinity Cathedral.
Families and relatives of the victims threw themselves on the coffins as they arrived and kissed pictures of loved ones.
Incense was waved over the coffins, but there was so …read more