Kenya to identify bodies of 32 of its nationals in Ethiopian Airlines plane crash

The dead included tourists, business travellers and 19 members of UN-affiliated organisations, many of whom were heading to the annual assembly of the UN Environment Programme in Nairobi. Photo AFP

The government of Kenya is to send a team to Ethiopia to help authorities there identify the bodies of Kenyans who died aboard an Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed Sunday morning shortly after take-off.

Twenty-five Kenyans were aboard the Boeing 737-800 Max flight number ET302 from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, which crashed, and killed all 157 passengers and crew members. The airline said 33 different nationalities were on board the plane.

Among the Kenyans were a FIFA referee who had gone to officiate a match, the head of finance at the Kenyan airport, a journalist and one professor.

Former BBC Africa editor Joseph Warungu told Onua FM Monday that the government of Kenya has resolved to send a delegation to Ethiopia to assist in identifying Kenyans in the accident and repatriate their bodies back home if necessary.

“The government is to send a team to Ethiopia to help in identification of bodies. It is bound to be tough as they are burned, possibly beyond recognition” Mr Warungu told Bright Asempa on Yen Sempa.

He added: “The Transport Secretary, James Macharia spoke yesterday at JKIA and said the Principal Secretary will be dispatched to Ethiopia”.

The team, he indicated, will also seek to establish from the Airliner and the Ethiopian government exactly “what happened” that caused the crash.

The plane was said to have lost communication with the airport tower just six minutes after it took off from the Bole International Airport.

Mr. Warungu who was also the General Manager in charge of News at Media General said the Kenyan government has meanwhile set up a psychological desk at the Jomoro Kenyatta Airport to help the families of the victims.

“A psychosocial desk has been set up at JKIA to help victims’ families. The operations at the JKIA are going on normal. Aircrafts are even working today,” he said.

Meanwhile, he said “the country is calm” but “Kenyans are sober”

“I have seen a short video, a very horrific video and everything was dismantled”, he explained.