Olive tree with soil from Ethiopia crash site unites mourners

By Jason Neely ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Families and friends grieving the victims of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 gathered for a tearful ceremony in Addis Ababa on Tuesday to unveil a plaque and plant an olive tree with soil from the crash site. Citizens of 35 countries were lost on March 10 when the flight, just six minutes into the blue skies near the capital, plunged to the ground, killing all 157 aboard.

Reuters March 27, 2019 00:09:57 IST
Olive tree with soil from Ethiopia crash site unites mourners

Olive tree with soil from Ethiopia crash site unites mourners

By Jason Neely

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Families and friends grieving the victims of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 gathered for a tearful ceremony in Addis Ababa on Tuesday to unveil a plaque and plant an olive tree with soil from the crash site.

Citizens of 35 countries were lost on March 10 when the flight, just six minutes into the blue skies near the capital, plunged to the ground, killing all 157 aboard.

Kenya, Canada and Ethiopia suffered the biggest losses of life and their representatives and others joined about 100 relatives and friends at the memorial ceremony.

“Angela was a bright, compassionate, beautiful woman whose smile was infectious,” Roland Rehhorn from Canada said, describing his daughter, 24.

“In 2011 Angela fell in love with Kenya after being there for 14 days on a high school mission.

"This adventure helped shape Angela’s love of the wild, the planet, and the sea,” he said, before reading a poem dedicated to the conservationist, who was on the Nairobi-bound flight to attend a session of the U.N. Environment Assembly.

Ethiopia's transport ministry said on Tuesday a preliminary report into the crash was likely be released this week.

“We cannot imagine what you have been through ... we admire your courage and you need to know that we’re here and there for you not only right now but every step of the way,” Canada's ambassador to Ethiopia, Antoine Chevrier, told the gathering.

“We are planting an olive tree today. Why? Because olive trees are beautiful, they are also resilient, and represent peace and solidarity,” he said, before a black marble plaque honouring the dead was unveiled.

Mourners then took turns spreading soil removed from the crash site around a young olive tree in the Canadian embassy compound.

“It’s closure, but it’s definitely a process,” said Miriam, an academic from Addis Ababa University there to honour her 26-year-old nephew Sidrak.

Mahlet Hailu, permanent secretary at Ethiopia’s foreign ministry, said the government wished to assure those mourning it would “efficiently and effectively conduct follow-up in the aftermath of this tragic accident".

Families have been told it could take six months to properly identify remains of the 149 passengers and eight crew lost.

“While much has happened since March 10, there is of course much more that needs to be done,” Chevrier said.

(Reporting by Jason Neely; Editing by Mark Potter)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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