Ethiopia crash: Number of Kenyan victims rises

Sunday March 17 2019
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Family members of victims from Kenya react at the crash site of the Ethiopian Airlines operated Boeing 737 MAX aircraft which killed 157 passengers and crew onboard, at Hama Quntushele village, near Bishoftu, in Oromia region, on March 15, 2019. AFP PHOTO

The number of Kenyans who died in the March 10 Ethiopian Airlines plane crash has risen from 32 to 36, Kenya's deputy ambassador George Orina said on Sunday.
The Boeing aircraft, B-737-800MAX registration ET-AVJ, had just departed from Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa when it crashed in Bishoftu.
All aboard - 149 passengers and eight crew members - died.
Mr Orina explained that “The number has been revised since the four were travelling on the passports of other nationalities."
He did not reveal the identities of the four but said at least 30 families had already been registered.

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Dejected families return home as Ethiopian Airlines plans payout

Sunday March 17 2019

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Families of the victims of the Ethiopian plane crash started to return home on Saturday as it emerged that they could receive between Shs630 million and Shs920 million for each person lost.
The exact amounts will vary due to factors such as age, profession and their position in life.
The amount could be more depending on the findings of ongoing investigation, especially if it is established that the airline was indeed at fault.

CLOSED-DOOR
Ethiopian officials on Saturday refused to give any figures to families on what exactly to expect in compensation, only offering that it will be dictated by “international standards”.
Lucas Nzioka, who lost a nephew, told the Sunday Nation that Ethiopian officials told family members during a closed-door session that compensation will be guided by the Montreal Convention.

“We were told it could be between $170,000 and $250,000 depending on age, profession and so on. It should be done within 18 months,” Nzioka said.
Personal effects of the deceased as well as death certificates will be processed and issued to the next of kin within the next two to eight weeks.

“When one of us asked how much we shall be given as compensation at our meeting, the airline official did not give any figure but just told us it will be in line with international standards of compensation. I do not know how much that is at the moment,” Mr Kariuki Munyi, who lost his daughter said.
The Montreal Convention says compensation arises only if a passenger’s injury or death is caused by an unexpected or unusual event or happening that is external to the passenger.
The Ethiopian flight ET 302 crashed last Sunday killing all the 157 passengers and crew on board. There were 32 Kenyans aboard the ill-fated plane believed to have been brought down by malfunctioning of the flight control system in the highest selling Boeing 737 Max 8 jetliner.

NEGLIGENCE
The Montreal Convention anticipates two scenarios. The first provides for a minimum compensation that every passenger must be compensated as long as they were injured or died while on the plane. Currently, this amount is at about $170,000 (about Shs630 million) per passenger.
The compensation process begins after identification of the victim is done. But since identification of bodies is going to be a nightmare for forensic experts given that there is no body retrieved from the crash scene, this is likely to take a while.
A seasoned Kenyan pilot told the Sunday Nation that every airline has an insurance policy for each passenger on board. He said currently, the insurance is about $170,000 (Shs 630 million) for every occupied seat.
But if not satisfied by the compensation, a family can sue to get more but for such a suit to succeed, there must be evidence of pilot error or negligence on the part of the airline or its agents. If proven, the liability is unlimited.

But should Ethiopian Airline show that the accident is due to the wrongful act of Boeing or another third party, getting more compensation above what is provided for by the insurance from the carrier would be a Herculean task.
Some of the family members are considering getting a lawyer to help deal with the compensation issue. A number of lawyers are also already contacting family members to be part of the legal action should the matter end up in court.

DNA RESULTS
“The carrier is liable for damage sustained in case of death or injury of a passenger upon condition only that the accident which caused the death or injury took place on board the aircraft or in the course of any of the operations of embarking or disembarking,” the convention reads in part.
Six other families the Sunday Nation spoke to said they did not know how much they will be paid, with only one saying they have gathered it would be about Sh20 million or less.

Forensic experts have collected over 5,000 tiny pieces of human remains left from the deadly crash last Sunday. Most are just fragments the size of a small finger to small bones. The biggest part is understood to be an arm.
Yesterday at a closed-door briefing with the family members, Ethiopian officials said DNA results would be announced between five to six months from the date the sample is collected. This means they will have to wait until August to know the findings.

DNA samples are being collected at Skylight Hotel in Addis Ababa. Those who cannot make it to Ethiopia have been asked to visit any point of origin through the Ethiopian Airlines Group (ETG) international offices closest to them.
Personal belongings of the deceased will also be returned to the next of kin after proper verification within two months.
Some of the things found apart from pieces from the plane wreckage include torn passports, mobile phones and national identification documents. There were also some computer accessories including a keyboard belonging to one of the victims and papers believed to have been separated from a book by the impact.

TRANSFERS
There were also business cards, in many languages, pieces of shredded clothing and a host of personal care items.
A look at the crash site near Bishoftu, south of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, suggests that the plane could have come down at a near vertical trajectory and slammed into the ground causing a deep crater just six minutes after takeoff.
Death certificates will be issued in the next two weeks and will be dispatched to immediate next of kin addresses given. Those departing earlier will be given temporary letters of evidence. The airline says it will continue facilitating site visits upon the request of victim families until May.

“Families can take soil from the crash site and a letter will be issued from the Ethiopian Airlines attesting the same for custom’s clearance at the airport,” an advisory note issued by the airline to the families of the victims seen by the Sunday Nation reads in part.
The airline also said it will give refunds for incidental payments to cover out of pocket expenses incurred by relatives of the victims. The payments will be done through bank transfers or at the destination convenient to families.

“Incidental payment will be made to the next of kin (father or mother or spouse or children),” the notice reads.
An original and copy of birth certificate or marriage certificate and passports will be required. Representatives from the concerned embassy shall appear as witnesses.
“Families who couldn’t fulfil the above mentioned requirements can get similar service at their respective or nearest area office of Ethiopian Airlines,” the notice adds.
The families yesterday started travelling back home having received the letters to help process death certificates and burial permits.

RECONSTRUCT
“We are going to get urns around here and package the soil we picked from the crash scene. After this we have no other business but go home and do a burial,” Nzioka said. His nephew, Bernard Musembi died in the crash.
He said the family plans to conduct a mock burial next Saturday in Mwala, Kabaa.
Meanwhile, new piece of evidence has been found that shows the similarities of the Ethiopian Airlines crash and that of the Lion Air flight that fell in October last year.

The device known as the jackscrew found in the wreckage suggests that the pilot may have had a problem with a new flight control system.
The jackscrew indicates the jet was configured to dive and this is what may have caused the accident last week. Reports indicate that in the last moments, Captain Yared Getachew reported in a calm voice that he was having a flight control problem. He then asked to be cleared to return. This time his voice was panicky.
According to the New York Times, a source who had reviewed the communications from flight 302, said the pilot told controllers: “Break, break, request back to home.”

He was allowed to return but this never happened.
Other theories being pursued include a malfunctioning of the software that made the pilot unable to control the plane.
In France, aviation investigators began working on Friday after receiving the heavily damaged data voice recorders as they attempt to figure out what went wrong. Their task will be to reconstruct the six-minute flight from Bole Airport before the plunge.

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Ethiopia crash investigation needs 'considerable' time- minister

Sunday March 17 2019


Identifying the cause of the deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people and caused the worldwide grounding of a brand-new Boeing aircraft model will take "considerable time," an Ethiopian government minister said Saturday.

The crash of Flight ET 302 minutes into its flight to Nairobi on March 10 killed all onboard and caused the worldwide grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft model involved in the disaster.
"The investigation of such magnitude requires a careful analysis and considerable time to come up with something concrete," transport minister Dagmawit Moges told a press conference.

Witnesses said the plane nose-dived into remote farmland southeast of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, reducing the plane to small pieces of debris buried deep in the earth. The victims came from 35 countries.
Dagmawit said it would take up to six months to identify remains, and family members were being encouraged to submit DNA samples in Addis Ababa or at Ethiopian Airlines offices overseas.
Death certificates would be issued in two weeks, she added.
The black boxes from the Ethiopian craft were sent to France's BEA air safety agency this week to determine the cause of the accident.
The data from one of them, the cockpit voice recorder, has already been extracted and handed over to Ethiopian authorities, the BEA said Saturday.

"The work continues" to obtain the data from the flight data recorder, which was badly damaged in the crash, it added.
A relative of one of the crash victims who asked not to named expressed frustration with the wait for remains.
The person said that under the victim's Jewish faith, no funeral could be held until his remains were returned, and the six-month delay was distressing for his family.
"They are in immense pressure and remorse as it is, without waiting half a year," the relative added.

The crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 was the second deadly incidence for the 737 MAX 8 following the October crash of an Indonesian Lion Air jet that killed all 189 passengers and crew.
The Boeing 737 MAX 8 is a brand-new jet. The crash of two of them in the space of just a few months, coupled with similarities in the circumstances, led countries and airlines around the world to ground the plane.
A preliminary report into the Lion Air disaster was published a month after the crash.

SERVICE
Meanwhile, a service in honour of the victims will take place in the Ethiopian capital on Sunday.
Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau is one of the dignitaries who will attend the service at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
For the service and for burials, the airlines has offered the bereaved bags of soil from the crash site.

“Families can take soil from the crash site and a letter will be issued from the Ethiopian Airlines attesting the same for custom’s clearance at the airport,” an advisory note issued by the airline to the families of the victims seen by the Sunday Nation reads in part.
According to the BBC, relatives were urged to provide DNA samples either in Addis Ababa or at any of the airlines' overseas offices.
Death certificates are expected to be issued in two weeks while DNA analysis could take up to six months.
COMPENSATION
As families returned home on Saturday, it emerged that they could receive between Shs630 million and Shs920 million for each person who died in the accident.

This will be guided by the Montreal Convention, which says compensation arises only if a passenger’s injury or death is caused by an unexpected or unusual event or happening that is external to the passenger.
The convention anticipates two scenarios. The first provides for a minimum compensation that every passenger must be compensated as long as they were injured or died while on the plane.
Currently this amount is at about $170,000 per passenger, which translates to about Shs 630 million at current exchange rates.

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