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

Two overdose deaths in Nelson over the weekend

Police warn that much of the current drug supply in the city may be dangerous

Midway mill shutdown expected to last 8 to 10 weeks

Vaagen Fibre Canada cites low inventory, road restrictions as reason for shut down

First presumptive case of coronavirus identified in the Interior Health region

The woman, in her 30s, travelled from Shanghai and lives in the interior

Timberwolves seek fresh lacrosse recruits

New season of the ‘fastest game on two feet’ begins this spring

Missing the Bus: Transit planners trying to fix overcrowding

Part two in a series looking at transit issues in the west Kootenay.

Protesters barricade Premier John Horgan’s home ahead of B.C. budget unveiling

Demonstrators from the Extinction Rebellion have blocked the Langford driveway

Kids exposed to household cleaners as newborns more likely to get asthma: B.C. study

Air fresheners, plug-in deodorizers, antimicrobial hand sanitizers and oven cleaners were the worst culprits

Victoria, Abbotsford record biggest jumps in rent prices nationwide: report

Toronto and Vancouver had priciest rentals in Canada

VIDEO: Convoy of forest industry supporters on its way to Victoria

Rally at the B.C. legislature begins with participants setting off from Campbell River

Teen snowmobiler found safe after overnight search in Okanagan

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Woman arrested in Cariboo after fuel stolen, police car rammed

Suspect wanted for crimes allegedly committed in Kelowna, Salmon Arm and 100 Mile House

No dramatic shifts expected as B.C. government tables new budget today

Finance Minister Carole James has promised to stay the course when she tables the budget in the legislature

Most Read