In Summary
  • Poor flow of information from the government, airport management and the Ethiopian Airlines raised the tension, with some of the at least 100 family members protesting at having been kept for nearly six hours without any briefing.

  • The situation was tense, with family members demanding to be given the list of the people who were on board. 

Tears, anxiety and anger marked the mood at Four Points by Sheraton Hotel at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) where the families of those who lost their lives in the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday morning converged.

Poor flow of information from the government, airport management and the Ethiopian Airlines raised the tension, with some of the at least 100 family members protesting at having been kept for nearly six hours without any briefing.

CONFLICTING REPORTS

“The families have been forced to rely on information from social media, which is conflicting. Some indicate that four people survived while others paints a disastrous picture,” said Mr Robert Mutanda, whose brother-in-law was flying from Canada to Kenya via Addis.

At 8pm on Sunday evening, after hours of waiting, the authorities dispersed, without a word. By this time, nearly all families and friends of the victims have left the airport.

Even Kenya Aviation Authority (KAA) workers who had assembled at the command centre at Four Points by Sheraton hotel to assist with the identification process for family and friends also left.

Kenya Red Cross officials who were to offer counselling services to kin and friends had little to do after families dispersed.

A representative of the Ministry of Transport said that a press briefing will be conducted at 9am on Monday morning.

A distraught Mr Francis Thiong’i was kept in suspense regarding the fate of his daughter, Ms Florence Wangari, 30, a Catholic nun who had called in the morning to inform them that she was travelling on the ill-fated plane.

TORTUROUS WAIT

“Is my daughter dead or alive? We have not received any information from either the government or the airport. It is torturous being left in such suspense by the authorities,” the septuagenarian who had travelled from Nakuru to meet his daughter her, said.

Mr Isaac Lugi was at the airport by 9am, hoping for a reunion with his brother, who was en route from Canada and had contacted their sister minutes before boarding the ill-fated plane.

As anxiety mounted over the accident, Transport CS James Macharia said only Ethiopian Airlines and the Ethiopian government could provide information about the crash.

At a later briefing, he said he could not divulge much since the information was sensitive. 

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