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ETHIOPIAN CRASH

ET302 Crash: A tale of tragedy and loss

In Summary

• The names and the nationalities of those on board each tell a story of hopes dashed, tragedy and loss.

• Families remember their kin even as the hope of getting their bodies remains dim.

Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam at the scene of accident
Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam at the scene of accident
Image: ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES

As investigators pick through what little remains of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302, the names and the nationalities of those on board each tell a story of hopes dashed, tragedy and loss.

Among the 157 dead were children, a former magistrate, a well-known football administrator, academics, aid workers, environmentalists and a journalist. Dads, mums, sisters, brother, uncles, aunts, lovers, dearest friends.

A brand-new Ethiopian jetliner Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed six minutes after taking off from Bole International airport in Addis Ababa for Nairobi on Sunday.

According to the list of the dead released by Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya was the hardest hit with 32 of her citizens killed. The UN lost 25 staff members and Canada 18. Others who died came from China, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Israel, India and Somalia.  Several countries, including the US, lost four or more people.

One of the victims, Cedric Asiavugwa, a law student at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, was on his way to Nairobi after the death of his fiancee's mother, the university said in a statement.

Asiavugwa, who was in his third year, was born and raised in Mombasa. Before he went to Georgetown, he worked with groups helping refugees in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Tanzania, the university said. His family and friends "remembered him as a kind, compassionate and gentle soul, known for his beautifully warm and infectious smile," Georgetown said.

Stella Osebe Konarska, 35, was once a high-flying Qatar airways employee for eight years but quit to nurture her first and only son. She hoped to return to the skies but her dreams ended on Sunday.

Married to a Polish citizen, Osebe was travelling with her three-year-old son, Adam Konarska, to Nairobi to reconnect with her Kenyan family. She last saw them in November last year.

In fact, her father and elder brother were waiting at JKIA to receive her after being apart for close to six months.

This was not to be. Her brother, only identified as Amos, told the Star his elder brother had already travelled to Addis Ababa to “collect the DNA samples so that we can identify our younger sister."

My sister was a hardworking and bubbly young girl with a bright future...When she came here last November, she insisted that she must see me. I was held up with work issues in Mombasa but she offered to cancel her trip so they could meet
Amos

"My sister was a hardworking and bubbly young girl with a bright future,” he said, adding that she had a  premonition of her death the last time they connected.

“When she came here last November, she insisted that she must see me. I was held up with work issues in Mombasa but she offered to cancel her trip so they could meet."

Yet another tale of grief was of Abdullahi Ibrahim Mohamed, the sole breadwinner of the family. A husband and father who last met his family in March last year.

His wife had bought a bouquet of flowers on Sunday and took their six-year-old son to the airport to welcome their father in mid-morning.

They learnt of the crash from the media as they waited.

"We had spoken to him when he was at the Saudi airport and told us that he would connect in Addis Ababa," family member Abuhamza told the Star yesterday.

Without a college education, getting a job had proven difficult for Mohammed. He sought to travel to Saudi Arabia in 2015 where he secured a job with the Almarai group of companies.

The four years had proven fruitful to the 35 year old. He managed to build a home, buy medication for his diabetic dad and school his children. "We are requesting they fast-track the process of identifying the bodies so that we can bury our loved ones,’’ he said.

Elsewhere, it was around 2pm when retired lecturer Philip Jaboma received the information that his Beril Achieng’ had died in the crash.

He had gone to Homa Bay Town market to buy some food for his ailing wife Abigail Jaboma, when his mobile phone rang.

“I was shocked to get the information that my daughter was among the casualties in the Ethiopian airliner that had crashed,” Jaboma said.

My daughter was a caring and loving child. She always advised us on the best food to eat due to her knowledge in nutrition. I will live to remember her
Jaboma

According to Jaboma, Achieng’, 31, had boarded the flight after attending a one-week health conference in Cairo, Egypt on behalf of Hope for Cancer Kids, an NGO.

“My daughter was a caring and loving child. She always advised us on the best food to eat due to her knowledge in nutrition. I will live to remember her,” her father weeps.

Jared Babu and his wife Mercy Ngami were returning from graduation in London when they met their deaths, leaving behind a 15-month-old baby.  

Jared and Ngami flew out to London where Ngami graduated with a master's degree at a London-based university.

They were thrilled to join the rest of the family in celebrating her academic achievement. 

Like any father, Joshua Babu could not wait to receive his son and daughter-in-law who were to touch down at exactly 10.20am.

Joshua was unable to speak to reporters and directed us to his brother David Babu.

In Taita Taveta, Jared’s relatives are still in shock, unable to grasp how tragedy struck.

His uncle, David, described Jared as one of the most jovial and understanding people in their family.

“Jared and his wife were good people who were ready to assist others They were a lovely couple, "he said.  Jared was the chairperson of a family-based group and the gap he left behind will be hard to fill.

“The couple was too young to die. But we leave everything to God who has answers to all our questions on why all this happened," he said.

Some Nyeri leaders also mourned their sons, Brigr George Kabugi, the KAA security manager and journalist Peter Ngare.

“We mourn too with the rest of the world, share the pain and pray to our Lord to give the families strength to bear and cope with the tragic loss,” wrote governor Mutahi Kahiga on his Facebook page.