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Ethiopia plane tragedy: Relief for kin as bodies are identified

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By AGGREY MUTAMBO
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PHYLLIS MUSASIA

By PHYLLIS MUSASIA
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The families of the 32 Kenyans who perished in the Ethiopian Airlines’ plane crash earlier this year are finally hopeful of closure after a global policing body said all the victims have been identified.

The International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) announced on Thursday it had positively identified all the 149 passengers and eight crew who died in the crash.

The announcement comes as a relief for families who are mourning the loss of their loved ones, without being able to see their remains.

Some 32 Kenyans, nine Ethiopians, six Egyptians and one Djiboutian were among those killed. A Somali, a Ugandan and a Rwandese were also among the 35 on board.

Flight ET302 crashed in one of Ethiopian Airlines’ deadliest accidents in modern times on March 10 minutes into its journey to Nairobi.

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The Boeing 737 Max went down near the town of Bishoftu in Ethiopia, with preliminary investigations pointing a finger at problems with the aircraft flight control system, known as MCAS.

But, even as the affected families sued Boeing, the manufacturer of the aeroplane, the key concern had been whether the victims of the accident could be identified.

Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock said the organisation had to rely on accurate DNA sampling from close blood relatives of the victims to make correct identification, which took the group six months.

“In the wake of such a tragedy, accurate identification of victims is of immense importance to bereaved families,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

“International cooperation and coordination is vital to these efforts, and this is where Interpol’s extensive experience in Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) provides significant added value to member countries when faced with a major disaster,” concluded Mr Stock.

Moments after the accident, Interpol deployed the Incident Response Team (IRT) and worked with “nearly 100 DVI experts from 14 countries in Africa, the Americas and Europe during its 50-day mission”.

The team supervised the identification efforts to ensure compliance with global standards, the group said.

The crash also claimed victims from Canada, the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Mozambique, China, Italy, France, Germany, Slovakia, Russia, Sweden, Austria and Poland. Others came from Ireland and Norway.

At the same time, a Nakuru man who lost five members of his family in the ill-fated plane is set to testify in a compensation case filed against Boeing.

Mr Quindos Karanja, 61, from Kwa Amos in Bahati, Nakuru County, said he was preparing to travel to the United States where hearing of the case will take place early next month.

“I just got a confirmation from the law firm that is representing me that I should get ready to travel ahead of the hearing date in October,” Mr Karanja told the Nation on Thursday.





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