Alyssa GoodmanComment

Anguished families of crash victims find nothing to bury

Alyssa GoodmanComment
Anguished families of crash victims find nothing to bury

It was too much to bear. She feared she would have nothing of her loved one, no body, no remains to bury.

She took handfuls of dirt and flung it in her own face, overcome.

An Ethiopian relative of a crash victim throws dirt in her own face after realizing that there is nothing physical left of her loved one near Bishoftu, Ethiopia, March 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

An Ethiopian relative of a crash victim throws dirt in her own face after realizing that there is nothing physical left of her loved one near Bishoftu, Ethiopia on March 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

More families arrived on Thursday at the site of the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people. They came with the hope that they could bring some trace of their loved ones home.

Some fell to their knees in grief when they learned there was nothing left. Others hurled themselves forward, wailing, or staggered in relatives' arms.

The mourning was mixed with frustration. For some, their beliefs dictated they must have something to bury.

Relatives react at the scene where the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after takeoff on Sunday near Bishoftu, Ethiopia, March 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

"Big families, a lot of people and the full Israeli nation is waiting for these remains and we will not go out of Ethiopia until we find the remains to bury them," said Moshi Biton of Israel, who lost his brother, Shimon Daniel Re'em Biton.

"Because if not, they will stay missing for the rest of the life and we cannot do that in our religion."

Some Muslim families fretted. A body must be buried as soon as possible.

In the Ethiopian Orthodox religion, bodies are buried a day after death.

On Wednesday the family of a young crew member on the doomed flight, Sara Gebremichael, held a religious ceremony for her photograph. They had nothing more.

Ethiopian religious leaders pray at the house of crash victim air hostess Sara Gebremichael, 38, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Samuel Habtab)

 

Candles burn in front of the photo of crash victim air hostess Sara Gebremichael, 38, at her house in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 13 2019. (AP Photo/Samuel Habtab)

 

Many of the grieving gathered at the rural, dusty crash site outside Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa. The dead came from 35 countries.

Some families, including that of the flight's senior pilot, Capt. Yared Getachew, came bearing large framed photographs of the dead. In one, a victim wore a graduate's cap and gown, a source of immense pride.

Others arriving wore black T-shirts printed with a photo in remembrance. They held sticks of incense, the flames flaring in the wind.

One man held a tiny, torn scrap of document showing a photo of one of the dead.

In the background, searchers carrying large clear plastic bags continued to move slowly through the rubble, looking for more.

Ethiopian relatives of crash victims mourn and grieve at the scene where the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after takeoff on Sunday near Bishoftu, Ethiopia on March 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Some relatives at the scene expressed frustration, saying authorities were not sharing the information they badly needed.

An airline spokesman on Wednesday said some remains had been found and were in a freezer awaiting the forensic DNA work needed for identifications.

On Thursday it was no longer clear how long that work, once estimated at five days or more, would take. Israel's consul to Ethiopia, Opher Dach, suggested the remains would be sent to a laboratory Britain.

The airline, overwhelmed with requests, announced it would take no more questions from reporters and would post any developments on social media and its website.

Even at an airline briefing for families in Addis Ababa some tearful relatives stormed out, demanding more.


Family members of the victims involved in a plane crash react at Addis Ababa international airport Sunday, March 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Wreckage is piled at the crash scene of an Ethiopian Airlines flight crash near Bishoftu, Ethiopia, March 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Documents lie on the ground near Bishoftu, Ethiopia, March 11, 2019, where Ethiopia Airlines Flight 302 crashed Sunday. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

A passenger passport lies on the ground at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines flight crash near Bishoftu, Ethiopia, March 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Ethiopian relatives of crash victims mourn at the scene where the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after takeoff on Sunday near Bishoftu, Ethiopia, March 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Ethiopian relatives of crash victims mourn and grieve at the scene where the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after takeoff on Sunday near Bishoftu, Ethiopia, March 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Rescuers work at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines flight crash near Bishoftu, Ethiopia, March 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Officials from the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) pray next to an offering of fruit, bread rolls, and a plastic container of Ethiopian Injera, a fermented sourdough flatbread, placed next to incense sticks, at the scene where the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after takeoff on Sunday near Bishoftu, Ethiopia, March 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Workers walk to collect clothes and other materials, under the instruction of investigators March 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Nurses walk to collect materials, under the instruction of investigators March 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

A grieving relative is held back by others at the scene where the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after takeoff on Sunday near Bishoftu, Ethiopia, March 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Workers gather at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines flight crash near Bishoftu, Ethiopia, March 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Family members cry at the scene where the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after takeoff on Sunday near Bishoftu, Ethiopia, March 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Framed photographs of seven crew members killed were on display, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Monday, March 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Samuel Habtab)

Mourners attend a memorial service held by an association of Ethiopian airline pilots in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Samuel Habtab)

Ethiopian relatives of crash victims mourn at the scene where the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after takeoff on Sunday near Bishoftu, Ethiopia, March 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Ethiopian relatives of crash victims mourn as a mechanical digger operates at the scene where the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after takeoff on Sunday near Bishoftu, Ethiopia, March 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)


Text from the AP news story, Anguished families of crash victims find nothing to bury, by Mulugeta Ayene and Cara Anna.

AP journalist Yidnek Kirubel in Hejere contributed. AP writer Elias Meseret in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia contributed.