ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - Identifying the remains of the 157 people killed in an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash may take up to six months, the airline said in a document seen by AFP on Saturday.
Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 plummeted into a field minutes after taking off from Addis Ababa bound for Nairobi last Sunday, killing all on board. The disaster led to the worldwide grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, the plane that crashed.
Witnesses said the plane nose-dived into remote farmland southeast of the Ethiopian capital, reducing the plane to small pieces of debris buried deep in the earth. People of 35 nationalities were killed in the crash.
In a document distributed by the airline to family members who lost loved ones in the crash, Ethiopian Airlines laid out a timetable for the return of victims' belongings and the distribution of death certificates.
"DNA result will be announced approximately between 5 to 6 months from the date the sample is collected," read the document. Relatives of the victims could submit DNA samples in Addis Ababa or at Ethiopian Airlines offices worldwide, it added.
The document was shared with AFP by a relative of a victim, who asked not to be named.
The person said that under the victim's Jewish faith, no funeral could be held until his remains were returned, and the six-month delay was stressing the victim's family.
"They are in immense pressure and remorse as it is, without waiting half a year," the relative said.
The crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 was the second deadly incidence for the 737 MAX 8 following the October crash of an Indonesian Lion Air jet that killed all 189 passengers and crew.
The Boeing 737 MAX 8 is a brand-new jet. The crash of two of them in the space of just a few months, coupled with similarities in the circumstances, led countries and airlines around the world to ground the plane.
The Ethiopian plane's voice and flight data recorders are in Paris, where French, Ethiopian and American investigators will try to determine what went wrong.