Canadians mourn those who lost their lives in Ethiopian plane crash
Morgan Lowrie and Rob Drinkwater, The Associated Press
Published Sunday, March 10, 2019 8:55AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, March 11, 2019 5:59AM EDT
A mother and daughter from Edmonton, a renowned Carleton University professor and an accountant with the City of Calgary were among the 18 Canadians who died Sunday when an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all 157 aboard.
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.
Carleton University confirmed Pius Adesanmi, a professor in the Department of English Language and Literature and the Institute of African Studies at Carleton University, was also killed in the crash.
Benoit-Antoine Bacon, the school's president and vice-chancellor, described him as a “global thinker,” and a “towering figure in African and post-colonial scholarship.”
Bacon said Adesanmi made an enormous impact on the university community since joining it in 2006, both as an academic and a person.
“What's striking about him was that he welcomes you with his whole being,” he said in a phone interview.
“He's a person of integrity, of wholeness, of warmth, and you can imagine the impact of his brilliant intellect as a great scholar and of the kind of man he was, the kind of person that he was.”
Tributes also poured in from Adesanmi's students and colleagues, both in Canada and his native Nigeria.
Mitchell Dick, a Carleton student, said Adesanmi was among his most “memorable” professors.
“He was extremely nice and approachable and his way of teaching was very vivid and accessible for everybody whether you were an English major or not,” he said from the Canadian university men's basketball championship in Halifax, where a moment of silence was held Sunday for the victims.
Gladys Kivia, a domestic violence counsellor with the Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter, said her husband, Derick Lwugi, was also among the victims.
The accountant who worked for the city leaves behind three children, aged 17, 19 and 20, Kivia said. The couple had been in Calgary for 12 years, and Lwugi had been headed to Kenya to visit both of their parents.
“His mom was not feeling well,” Kivia said in a brief interview.
Media reports indicate that Danielle Moore, 24, of Winnipeg, was also among the victims. In a Facebook post on Saturday morning, Moore wrote that she was excited to be attending a UN environment event in Nairobi.
“I feel beyond privileged to be receiving this opportunity,” she wrote.
Monica Phung, a friend of Moore's who worked with her through a conservation program called Ocean Bridge, said she last spoke to her friend Friday night.
“I messaged her to congratulate her. She just got accepted to the Bachelor of Education program at the University of Ottawa,” said Phung. “That's what she felt like she was meant to do.”
Asked what comes to mind when she thinks of her friend, Phung said she pictures “laughing and sunshine.
“She had a loud and happy laugh all the time. And the biggest smile,” said Phung. “And she was just a light. She would always make you feel good and you could feel her energy in the room. She was so positive and just always brought a goodness to everyone around her.”
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. In the wake of Sunday's crash, Ethiopian Airlines as well as all Chinese airlines have ground their Boeing 737 Max 8 planes indefinitely.
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.
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.”
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.
Black body bags were spread out nearby while Red Cross and other workers looked for remains. In one photo, teams could be seen loading black plastic bags into trucks.
As the sun set, crews were still searching for the plane's flight-data recorder, the airline's chief operating officer said.
Ethiopian Airlines said it had contacted the families of the victims and would soon conduct forensic investigations to identify the 149 passengers and eight crew.
Some of those aboard were travelling to the 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.
- With files from Keith Doucette, Adam Burns, Hina Alam, Allison Jones and The Associated Press