Carleton prof, mom and daughter from Edmonton among victims in Ethiopian Airlines crash

by Bamidele Ogunberu Posted on March 10th, 2019

Pius Adesanmi, a Carleton University professor was one of 18 Canadians killed Sunday in an Ethiopian Airlines crash that left 157 people dead.

Pius Adesanmi, a professor in the Department of English Language and Literature and the Institute of African Studies at Carleton University, was a “towering figure in African and post-colonial scholarship,” said Benoit-Antoine Bacon, the school’s president and vice-chancellor.

“The Carleton University community is in shock,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and all those who knew and loved him, and with everyone who suffered a loss in the tragic crash in Ethiopia.”

Pauline Rankin, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, said Adesanmi’s contributions to Carleton were “immeasurable.”

“He worked tirelessly to build the Institute of African Studies, to share his boundless passion for African literature and to connect with and support students,” she said in a statement. “He was a scholar and teacher of the highest calibre who leaves a deep imprint on Carleton.”

Mohamed Hassan Ali said his sister, Amina Ibrahim Odowaa, and her five-year-old daughter, Sofia Faisal Abdulkadir, were on board the jet that went down six minutes after it took off from the Addis Ababa airport on the way to Nairobi, Kenya.

“(She was) a very nice person, very outgoing, very friendly. Had a lot of friends,” he said of his sister, who lived in Edmonton and was travelling to Kenya to visit with relatives.

It was not clear what caused the Ethiopian Airlines plane to go down in clear weather six minutes after departing Bole Airport in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on its way to Nairobi, the capital of neighbouring Kenya. The accident was strikingly similar to last year’s crash of a Lion Air jet that plunged into the Java Sea, killing 189 people. Both crashes involved the Boeing 737 Max 8, and both happened minutes after the jets became airborne.

The Ethiopian pilot sent out a distress call and was given clearance to return to the airport in Addis Ababa, the airline’s CEO said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “deeply saddened” by the crash.

“On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our heartfelt condolences to those who have lost family, friends, and loved ones as a result of this tragedy,” he said in a statement. ““We are providing consular assistance, and working closely with authorities to gather further information. We join the international community in mourning the loss of so many lives, including those countries who have also lost citizens in this devastating crash.”

Devastating news from Ethiopia this morning. Our thoughts are with all the victims on flight ET302, including the Canadians who were on board, and everyone who lost friends, family, or loved ones. Canadians in need of assistance, contact sos@international.gc.ca or 613-996-8885.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) March 10, 2019

Trudeau reached out to Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to express condolences.

At least 35 nationalities were among the dead, including 32 Kenyans, and people from China, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Israel, India and Somalia.

Families around the world grieved. At the Addis Ababa airport, a woman called a mobile number in vain. “Where are you, my son?” she said, in tears. Others cried as they approached the terminal.

At the crash site, the impact caused the plane to shatter into small pieces. Personal belongings and aircraft parts were strewn across the freshly churned earth. Bulldozers dug into the crater to pull out buried pieces of the jet.

Terrible news from #AddisAbaba, #Ethiopia, this morning. My heartfelt condolences to all those who have lost loved ones. The Canadian government is in close contact with Ethiopian authorities to gather additional information as quickly as possible.— Chrystia Freeland (@cafreeland) March 10, 2019

Red Cross teams and others searched for human remains. In one photo, teams could be seen loading black plastic bags into trucks.

As sunset approached, crews were still searching for the plane’s flight-data recorder, the airline’s chief operating officer said.

Other worried families gathered in Nairobi. Agnes Muilu came to pick up his brother: “I just pray that he is safe or he was not on it.”

Relatives were frustrated by the lack of word on loved ones.

“Why are they taking us round and round. It is all over the news that the plane crashed,” said Edwin Ong’undi, who was waiting for his sister. “All we are asking for is information to know about their fate.”

Ethiopian Airlines said it has contacted the families of the victims and will soon conduct forensic investigations to identify the 149 passengers and eight crew.

Some of those aboard were thought to be travelling to a major United Nations environmental meeting scheduled to start Monday in Nairobi. UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said staff members were among the victims, as were colleagues from the United Nations. A UN official said the United Nations expects that about a dozen passengers affiliated with the world organization were on the Ethiopian Airlines jet.

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