FAMILIES have spoken of their grief after it emerged that three generations of a Gujarati family from Canada were among those killed when the Ethiopian Airlines aircraft crashed last Sunday (10).
Six members of the Vaidya family who were on the “trip of a lifetime” to a safari park in Kenya were passengers on board the Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines plane which crashed minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa. The new Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet went down, killing all 157 people on board.
Pannagesh Vaidya, 73; his wife Hansini Vaidya, 67; their daughter Kosha Vaidya, 37; her husband Prerit Dixit, 45; and their two children Anushka and Ashka died, Patrick Brown, mayor of Canadian city Brampton (outside Toronto, where the family lived) was quoted as saying by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
While the Surat, Gujarat-based Vaidya couple were Indian nationals, their daughter, husband and two children were Canadians of Indian-origin.
The family lived in Canada and were on their way to a safari vacation, for “the trip of a lifetime” in Kenya.
“This is an unbelievably tragic situation for this family,” Brown said in a statement.
“As more details become known, I will provide a further update on how Brampton residents can assist this family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this time of sorrow and reflection.”
The flags at city hall would remain at half-mast until further notice in honour of the family, Brown said in a message on Twitter.
“It’s a huge tragedy,” Manant Vaidya, son of Pannagesh, said.
“I lost my parents, I lost my sister. I don’t have anyone else now.”
Manant said his sister, who became a Canadian permanent resident in 2003, wanted to take her children to Kenya to visit her birthplace.
Kosha, who was originally born in Kenya but lived in Canada, worked for the Canadian Hearing Society as a HR advisor.
“I sincerely hope this is the last accident to happen and nobody suffers as we do,” Manant said.
“It’s a huge tragedy. She is the only sister I got. I lost my parents, I lost my sister, I don’t have anybody else.
“They thought March break was the perfect time for them to go over there, have fun,” Manant said. “It was going to be a really great trip for everybody.”
“I asked my dad why he wanted to go and he told me that in his life he wants to go one more time.”
The Peel District School Board, which the young girls attended, also paid tribute to their students Ashka and Anushka Dixit.
“Tomorrow, the flags at @ChinguacousySS & @CentennialSrPS will be lowered to half-mast to remember and honour Anushka Dixit, Ashka Dixit, their parents and grandparents who lost their lives over the weekend,” the school board tweeted.
Four Indian nationals were among the passengers on the aircraft.
Shikha Garg, a newly-wed from New Delhi, 32, had apparently called her father moments before the flight took off. Her husband, Soumya Bhattacharya, also confirmed he had received a text from his wife before the plane had taken flight.
“I have boarded the flight and will call you once I land,” Garg had apparently texted.
Her father told an Indian news outlet that his daughter was a brilliant student.
According to reports, Garg was a consultant with the Indian ministry of environment and forests. She was said to be travelling to attend a United Nations Environment Programme meeting in Nairobi.
India’s foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, in a tweet last Sunday, said she was sorry to hear about the crash and confirmed the number of Indian nationals who had died.
“I have asked Indian High Commissioner in Ethiopia to provide all help and assistance to the bereaved families,” she said.
Following the crash, India’s aviation watchdog ordered a safety review for future flights using the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft.
The directions call the pilot-in-command to have at least 1,000 hours of flying experience and the co-pilot to have 500 hours on Boeing 737 NG type aircraft.
Indian private airlines Spicejet and Jet Airways have Max 8 aircraft, although the latter told an Indian news agency that it was not currently operating any of the five planes in its fleet.
The cause of the disaster is unclear.
“At this stage, we can’t rule out anything,” CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, Tewolde
Gebremariam, said. “We can’t also attribute the cause to anything because we’ll have to comply with the international regulation to wait for the investigation.”