Four Catholic Relief Service staff members on their way to a training session in Nairobi, Kenya, were among the passengers aboard an Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed moments after takeoff in the east African nation.
The accident on 10th March claimed the lives of 157 people on board, many of them from humanitarian agencies.
Others on the jetliner included a Georgetown University law school student who was serving as a campus minister and 19 staff members of UN agencies. Two Kenyan religious, Mariannhill Fr George Kageche Mukua and an unidentified nun, were also among those killed in the crash.
Pope Francis offered prayers for the passengers from 35 countries in a telegram on 11th March.
‘Having learned with sadness of the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash, His Holiness Pope Francis offers prayers for the deceased from various countries and commends their souls to the mercy of almighty God. Pope Francis sends heartfelt condolences to their families, and upon all who mourn this tragic loss he invokes the divine blessings of consolation and strength,’ said the telegram from Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state.
In a statement on 11th March, Catholic Relief Services shared the news of the tragedy involving its staffers, all Ethiopian nationals.
The dead include Getnet Alemayehu, Mulusew Alemu, Sintayehu Aymeku and Sara Chalachew. They worked in various administrative positions for CRS.
‘Although we are in mourning, we celebrate the lives of these colleagues and the selfless contributions they made to our mission, despite the risks and sacrifices that humanitarian work can often entail,’ CRS said. ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and all of those who lost loved one as a result of this tragedy.’
Catholic Relief Services is the US bishops’ international relief and development agency. In Washington, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, expressed sadness at the “deaths of four of our esteemed colleagues.”
Picture: People watch a tractor excavate Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash on 10th March 2019, near Bishoftu, Ethiopia. The crash killed 157 people from 35 countries. (CNS photo/Maheder Haileselassie, Reuters).