Israeli forensics team arrives in Ethiopia to help identify crash victims

People stand near collected debris at the crash site of Ethiopia Airlines near Bishoftu, a town some 60 kilometres southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 11, 2019. An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 crashed en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi with 149 passengers and eight crew believed to be on board, Ethiopian Airlines said. Photo: Michael Tewelde/AFP/Getty Images

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A forensics team from the Israel Police arrived in Ethiopia in order to work with local authorities to identify the remains of two Israelis killed in the crash last week of an Ethiopian Airlines plane.

The team arrived on Monday as forensic work began on the remains unearthed after the crash.

It could take six months to identify remains from each of the victims of the crash, according to reports.

The 157 victims including passengers and crew, came from 35 different countries.

The Israelis killed in the crash were identified as Avraham Matsliah, 49, from Ma’ale Adumim, and Shimon Re’em, 55, of Zichron Yaakov.

“We are embarking on a national mission and joining the international effort and other delegations that will arrive in the field,” Chief Superintendent Ilan Peer, the head of the delegation said, according to the Jerusalem Post. “Our goal is to identify the two Israelis who perished in the disaster.”

Airline officials in recent days reportedly began delivering 2-pound bags of scorched earth from the crash site to the bereaved families to bury in place of their loved ones’ bodies. Death certificates are expected to be issued in the next two weeks.

The Israeli forensics team, which includes senior crime scene investigators, dentists, DNA analysts and an anthropologist, will join Interpol and a team from Britain to work with local officials to identify the bodies. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has sent a delegation to assist in the investigation.

Immediately after the crash a delegation from Zaka, the Israeli rescue and recovery group, left for Addis Ababa to help identify the remains of the Israeli victims. They were kept from the crash site for several days and were not allowed to remove any material once they did visit the site.