/Clear Similarities Between Ethiopian And Indonesian Plane Crashes, Official Says

Clear Similarities Between Ethiopian And Indonesian Plane Crashes, Official Says

Mourners grieve next to empty caskets at a mass funeral at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Sunday.

Mulugeta Ayene/AP


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Mulugeta Ayene/AP

Mourners grieve next to empty caskets at a mass funeral at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Sunday.

Mulugeta Ayene/AP

Updated at 2:08 p.m. ET

Data retrieved from the black boxes of the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed all 157 people on board last week show “clear” similarities with the crash of a Lion Air jet in Indonesia last October.

Both crashes involved the same model of plane: the Boeing 737 Max 8. Ethiopian Transport Minister Dagmawit Moges, who announced the findings on Sunday, said the government would release more detailed information within a month.

Earlier in the day, relatives of the victims of last week’s crash gathered beside empty coffins at a mass funeral in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Family, friends and other mourners, some holding up photographs of loved ones who died in the crash, joined a funeral procession as the caskets were carried to Holy Trinity Cathedral.

Priests swung incense over the caskets, which were draped in flags and adorned with pictures of the deceased.

Relatives told news wires prior to the funeral that they were given small sacks of scorched earth from the site of the crash in place of remains, which are expected to take months to identify. Some relatives, including Muslim families, expressed frustration that they could not yet bury their dead, as dictated by their religious beliefs.

“The soil came as it became impossible to identify bodies and hand over remains to family members,” one family member told The Associated Press. “We will not rest until we are given the real body or body parts of our loved ones.”

Moges said at a news conference on Saturday that it could take up to six months to identify victims but that death certificates would be issued in a couple of weeks, AFP reported. She said the investigation into the crash of Flight 302 would take “considerable time.”

The brand-new Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, which crashed shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa, was carrying passengers and crew members from 35 countries, according to Ethiopian Airlines. Kenyan, Canadian, Ethiopian, Chinese, Italian and U.S. citizens were among those on board.

Ethiopian Airlines employees held a memorial service for deceased colleagues and passengers on Friday.

The crash came several months after Lion Air Flight 610 in Indonesia went down over the Java Sea, also just minutes after takeoff.

In response to safety concerns over the Max 8, dozens of countries, including the U.S., moved this week to ground the aircraft. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement on Wednesday that its temporary grounding order would remain in effect “pending further investigation, including examination of information from the aircraft’s flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders.”

Prior to Moges’ announcement about the black box data, the FAA said that evidence from the site of the plane’s impact, coupled with satellite data tracking the aircraft’s flight path, showed similarities with the Lion Air incident.

Boeing said in a statement that it continues to have “full confidence” in the plane’s safety but that it was recommending temporarily suspending operations of the entire global fleet of the 737 Max aircraft, totaling 371 planes.

The investigation into the cause of the crash continues in Ethiopia and France, where the country’s air accident investigation authority has agreed to help handle the incident.

French authorities said on Saturday that they were able to extract the data from the first black box, as NPR’s David Welna reported. They turned the audio files from the cockpit voice recorder and data from the flight data recorder over to Ethiopian investigators, The Wall Street Journal reported.