Members of several Canadian families who lost loved ones in the Ethiopian Airlines crash last March landed at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport Tuesday morning along with seven caskets carrying remains of their relatives.
A ceremonial honour guard of fire trucks met the airplane on the tarmac.
In all, 18 Canadians were killed when Flight 302 crashed six minutes after takeoff on March 10. Two other people who died were in the process of becoming permanent residents in Canada.
For the families, it’s been a long wait for remains to be identified through DNA and organized for repatriation from Addis Ababa. Tuesday’s return was the largest group of remains to arrive in Canada at once.
For Mohamed Ali of Toronto, the repatriation means he will finally be able to put his sister, Amina Odowa, and his five-year-old niece Sofia Abdulkadirto to rest. He is planning a simple Islamic ceremony after he flies back to Edmonton, where they were living.
“We are almost at the end of the journey that began with such tragedy,” said Ali. “We have been in suspense for a long time.”
For Chris Moore, whose 24-year-old daughter Danielle Moore was killed in the crash, it’s “another piece in the jigsaw puzzle to which we don’t have all the pieces.”
Moore, of Toronto, was dressed all in black. He greeted his wife and son, who had travelled to Ethiopia to claim the remains.
He will be heading to Washington, D.C., next week to be on hand as U.S. lawmakers continue their investigation into the crash.
Flight data has shown that the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft was in a frightening pattern of ascent and descent before plunging to the ground.
For the first time, executives from Boeing, the manufacturer of the 737 Max, will address a U.S. congressional committee regarding two 737 Max crashes — the Ethiopian Airlines flight and a Lion Air crash five months earlier in Indonesia that also killed all on board.
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg will testify at a hearing that is investigating the design, development and marketing of the aicraft.
“I want to make sure Boeing knows we are there,” Moore said of his upcoming visit to D.C. “There is a real human element to the tragedy and not just their profits being hit.”