A shredded book, a passport: A heartbreaking look at what the 157 victims left behind

2019-03-11 22:06
A passenger passport is seen on the ground at the scene of the crash.  (Mulugeta Ayene, AP)

A passenger passport is seen on the ground at the scene of the crash. (Mulugeta Ayene, AP)

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What little was left was heartbreaking: A battered passport. A shredded book. Business cards in many languages.

Searchers in white gloves and canvas shoes picked their way through the scattered remains of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 for a second day on Monday, gingerly lifting from the scorched earth the pieces of 157 lives.

The tattered book, its pages singed, appeared to be about macroeconomics, its passages highlighted by a careful reader in yellow and pink.

There was a shattered keyboard. Playfully printed T-shirts.

There was even a plaintively ringing mobile phone, picked up by a stranger and silenced.

The dead came from 35 countries. As their identities slowly emerged from shocked families, governments and employers, a common strand became clear.

The flight that set off on Sunday morning from Ethiopia's capital, faltered and plowed into the earth six minutes later was full of people unafraid to take on the world and its problems — and explore it, too.

The plane held 32 people from neighboring Kenya, including a law student and a football official, a toll that left the country numb. Ethiopia lost 18 lives.


"A spirit to serve the people of the world..."


Others came from afar, to work or play: A satirist. A former ambassador. Tourists. An accountant.

But the number of humanitarian workers was shockingly high.

There were doctors. A child protection worker. Advocates. Environmental activists.

They carried high ideals obscured by mundane, bureaucratic names: Briefing papers. Capacity-building initiatives.

Ethiopian Airlines crash: 11 reads on the plane that fell from the sky

The Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft was in the air for about six minutes before it crashed, killing 157 people from 35 countries.

Addis Ababa and the plane's destination, Nairobi, are popular hubs for aid workers addressing some of the world's most pressing crises: Somalia. South Sudan. Climate change. Hunger.

"They all had one thing in common — a spirit to serve the people of the world and to make it a better place for us all," the UN secretary general said.

READ: Government officials, doctors among Ethiopian plane crash victims

Leaders of the United Nations, the UN refugee agency and the World Food Program said colleagues had perished. The UN migration agency estimated that 19 workers with the UN and affiliated organisations were among the dead. A spokesman at UN headquarters could not confirm it.

The UN flag flew at half-staff on Monday, and Ethiopia marked a day of mourning for all.

A steady wind blew on Monday as more remains were found, flashes of humanity among the gritty pieces of hull and wheel.

Beyond the yellow tape around the crash site, huddled figures wrapped in blankets watched in silence.

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Read more on:    ethiopian airlines  |  ethiopia  |  plane crashes  |  air travel
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