The remains of 28 of the 32 Kenyans killed in the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March have arrived in Nairobi.
Hearses lined up at the VIP section of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport early Monday morning as family members streamed in. A somber mood engulfed the airport as victims’ families, most dressed in black, waited to receive their loved ones.
Kenya’s Cabinet secretary for foreign affairs, Monica Juma, was among the top government officials greeting the families.
“We have had a chance to meet with the families,” Juma said. “We have had a chance to give them a final service, interdenominational service, so that they can bring closure to seven months of grieving, of sorrow, of sadness.”
She said all the bodies of Kenyans killed in the crash have been accounted for; the four bodies not returned Monday were either cremated or interred privately by their families.
After prayers Monday at the airport, the victims’ remains were turned over to family members.
Three hours later, a funeral was held for 34-year-old Abdulahi Ibrahim at his home in the Kibera section of Nairobi. Ibrahim had worked for a dairy company in Saudi Arabia and was on his way home for vacation when he died in the plane crash.
His friends carried his casket to a Muslim cemetery, as they marched the same streets where they had played football as children.
His father, Ibrahim Mohammed, said that now, he could probably start to heal.
“For this 7 months, I have been traumatized,” he said. “When they handed over my son’s body, I was thankful and felt some relief because that’s my son and I have buried him now, so I feel relieved and I believe now my health will start to improve.”
Imam Ahmed Idriss led the prayers at Ibrahim’s send off, saying, “We thank God that Ibrahim’s remains are home and he is now buried next to his grandparents and great great grandparents. … Now the parents can finally have peace because their son is buried here next to his family and according what the Muslim religion dictates.”
A total of 157 people died when the Boeing 737 Max aircraft crashed March 10 in the town of Bishoftu, Ethiopia.
Last month, Boeing announced it had set up a $50 million fund to compensate victims of the crash and another involving a 737 Max in Indonesia last year.
All 737 Max planes remain grounded while the company investigates reports that faulty sensors were to blame for both tragedies.