Workers walk past flowers laid at the scene where the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after takeoff on Sunday killing all 157 on board, near Bishoftu, or Debre Zeit, south of Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia Wednesday, March 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mulugeta Ayene

Remains of 7 Canadians killed in Ethiopian Airlines crash return home

Boeing 737 Max 8 plane crashed just six minutes into the flight

A Toronto man saw a months-long wait draw to a bittersweet end on Tuesday as he returned to Canada with the bodies of two relatives who were killed in the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane this year.

Mohamad Ali said he waited seven months before he was cleared to go to Ethiopia and retrieve the remains of his sister Amina Odowa and her five-year-old daughter Sophia Abdulkadir.

The two were among 18 Canadians who died in March when the plane went down en route to Kenya, killing all 157 people on board.

Ali said touching their caskets for the first time brought him a sense of lightness, energy, and a measure of peace.

“Coming with them all the way, I feel their presence all over me right now,” Ali said. “This is very important. It feels good now they are with us.”

The mother and daughter were among a group of seven Canadians who were repatriated at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Tuesday morning. But the journey for Odowa and Sophia is set to continue through the week.

Ali said he plans to fly with his sister and niece’s remains to Edmonton on Tuesday night and bury them side-by-side on Friday in a small Muslim ceremony.

He said doing so will allow Odowa’s mother and her other two daughters, ages four and eight, to visit her grave and say prayers.

Ali said the burial will help bring the closure that’s proved elusive for the family since the crash, adding the wait to claim their bodies was particularly trying.

“We’ve been very unsettled,” he said. ”We couldn’t do a lot of things like move forward because we were on standby the last seven months, waiting for the remains to come.”

The Ethiopian Airlines flight left the capital city of Addis Ababa on its way to Nairobi, Kenya, on March 10. The Boeing 737 Max 8 plane crashed just six minutes into the flight.

The incident was strikingly similar to last year’s crash of a Lion Air jet in Indonesia, which involved the same type of aircraft coming to harm moments after takeoff.

The crashes prompted a widespread grounding of the 737 Max 8 while concerns about its safety were investigated.

In several lawsuits filed on behalf of Canadian victims of the Ethiopian Airlines crash, plaintiffs allege the pilots were in a tug-of-war with the plane’s automated flight system, manually trying to climb while the computer caused the craft to dive repeatedly and ultimately crash.

Canadian victims included a renowned Carleton University professor, an accountant with the City of Calgary and a 24-year-old Winnipeg woman on her way to the United Nations Environment Assembly.

American authorities including the United States House of Representatives, the Department of Justice and the Transportation Department inspector general are investigating how the Max 8 was certified for flight by the Federal Aviation Administration.

READ MORE: B.C. environmentalist killed in Ethiopian Airline crash

— With files from the Associated Press

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chemainus & District Baseball Association season on hold due to COVID-19

Shouts of Play Ball! would normally have started being heard next week

Province restricts open burning across much of the Cowichan region

No new fires may be initiated in all high smoke sensitivity zones

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

COVID-19: Isolation exemptions to frontline workers a danger to patients, say Island Health employees

Staff exempt from self-isolation upon return from international travel according to Island Health

B.C. COVID-19 contact restrictions working, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

’Not out of the woods yet’ as next two weeks are critical

Long list of events disrupted by COVID-19 around the community

Challenging situation affecting fundraisers, entertainment, sports and more

Canada will make sure masks sent by China meet quality standards: Trudeau

Chinese Embassy tweeted that China was sending 30,000 medical masks along with gowns, gloves and goggles

B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Hand sanitizer and markers to keep lines two metres are apart are needed, province says

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Olympics?

Put your knowledge to the test with these 12 questions

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

B.C. Ferries passengers staying away, as asked, during COVID-19 pandemic

Ferry corporation says ridership down 70-80 per cent over the last week and a half

Most Read