Pain and reflection a year after Ethiopian Airlines crash

Benyam Alemayehu, an Ethiopian Airlines pilot, knew straight away something was not right.

Waking up after a post-flight rest, he found more than a dozen missed calls on his phone.

“I switched on the TV [and the] ET302 crash was all over the news,” he says, recalling the Ethiopian Airlines disaster a year ago that killed all 157 people on board a new Boeing 737 MAX 8.

Benyam’s worry quickly reached new heights; he found out that his close friend, 29-year-old Yared Getachew, was the one flying the passenger jet.

Nairobi-bound Flight ET302 plunged to the ground at 8:38am (05:38 GMT) on March 10, 2019, six minutes after taking off from Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport.

All 149 passengers – from 33 countries – and eight crew members were killed.

The tragedy plunged people across Ethiopia into mourning, including in Adadi, a small sleepy village in central Ethiopia where the plane crashed and burst into flames.

“I was drinking coffee when I heard a sudden high-pitched noise,” remembers Abera Lenijso, a 62-year-old local farmer.

“When I went out of my home, I saw a huge explosion and an enveloping smoke which reached even my house,” he says.

“We ran to the crash site in distress, with many of us crying. Then we called our local administrators.”

In the immediate aftermath of the crash, mourners, government officials and journalists poured into Adadi.

“Our village was little-known before the plane crash,” Abera says. “In the following days after the plane crash, mourners came to our area. We greeted the mourners with food and shared their grief.”

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