Grieving family members — desperate to recover the remains of their loved ones who died in the Ethiopian Airlines crash earlier this month — have been pleading with government officials to reopen the crash site and allow a collection team to go in, according to a report.
“We need closure,” said the wife of one victim, identified by CNN as Shimon Daniel Reem-Biton, a 61-year-old father of five.
“We need to bury him,” she told the network, choosing to remain anonymous. “I feel like I lost my life, too. I wake up, but I’m not living.”
CNN spoke to two other relatives — Moshe Biton and Ilan Matsliah, two Israelis who lost their brothers — about not being able to mourn properly due to the Ethiopian government’s reluctance to re-open the crash site.
Officials had previously allowed an emergency response ZAKA team to go in and investigate, but they were only given access for a few hours, according to CNN.
“Our goal is to bring all the human remains and to check all the DNA,” Matsliah said. “It’s very important because in our religion it is so important that we bring the remains to the grave to bury the person. Our mothers want to go to the grave and cry on it. It’s sensitive, but it’s a rule that we have in the Jewish religion.”
The grieving family members believe their loved ones’ remains are buried underneath the crash site’s soil. None have been recovered so far.
“We worry that our brothers’ DNA won’t be among the remains that have been collected and that we will never have a grave to visit,” Matsliah said. “I want professional teams, such as the Israeli team ZAKA, to go in and pick up the rest of the remains. ZAKA estimates it might take two weeks to gather all the remains. We are begging the Ethiopian government to allow these teams to help them with this.”
Reem-Biton’s wife reiterated Matsliah’s comments, saying: “Please, please help us. Help all the families.”
“It’s very hard,” she said. “The father of my children is gone. I can’t believe he will not be with us anymore. He was a very good father. He spent every moment with them. Football. Basketball. Every moment he had that he wasn’t working he spent with them … Let us bring him home.”