Four years on: Remembering victims of Ethiopian Airlines tragedy in which 32 Kenyans were killed

for Tv47 Digital March 11, 2023, 06:21 AM
Ethiopian airlines crash flight 302
Some of the victims of the ET302 flight Antony Ngare, Catholic nun Florence Wangari, Management Consultant Juliet Otieno and ex-KFF Sec. Gen. Hussein Swaleh. PHOTOS/FILE

In Summary

  • The Boeing 737 Max crashed just six minutes after taking off from Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 
  • All the 157 passengers and crew on board were killed. 

Friday March 10 marked the fourth anniversary of the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX crash.

One hundred and fifty seven people – among them 32 Kenyans- died when the aircraft crashed just six minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.

The crash was as a result of a software glitch in the aircraft’s automated flight control system (known as ‘Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System). The ET302 flight was headed for Nairobi.

Among those who died was Catholic priest Father George Mukua, former Kenya Football Federation Secretary General Swaleh Hussein, Kenyatta University lecturers Dr Isaac Mwangi Minae and Prof Agnes Kathumbi, and former Standard Group journalist Anthony Ngare.

There were no survivors.

Yesterday, some of the family members of the victims gathered near the Boeing headquarters in Virginia, USA, to denounce what they called "total impunity" over the loss of life.

"There has been no investigation, from a judicial point of view and from a criminal point of view, in the United States for manslaughter," Catherine Berthet, who lost her daughter Camille in the accident is quoted by news agency AFP as saying.

The families held portraits of loved ones and braved the rain to protest.

"Four years later... this plane is still in the air and it is the bestseller of Boeing, this 747 MAX, while it is dangerous," Catherine added.

Emergency responders at the crash site. The accident was blamed on a software glitch in the aircraft’s automated flight control system. PHOTO | REUTERS

The accident came barely five months after a similar plane operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air crashed into the Java Sea, killing 189 people.

"Boeing must be sued for manslaughter... It's manslaughter and they have to be sued and DOJ (US Department of Justice) has to do its work," added Catherine.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) entered into a secret deferred prosecution agreement with Boeing that allowed its executives to skirt criminal charges, adds AFP. "Instead, Boeing recognised that two employees misled authorities during the certification of the 737 MAX.

"The airline manufacturer agreed to pay $2.5 billion in penalties and compensation in exchange for accepting the secret deal, which later became public.

Berthet and other families of victims are challenging the agreement in a federal court in Texas. A federal judge there ruled in early February that he did not have the authority to grant their petition, and the case is now under appeal."

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