Rijo Eldhose’s family’s wait for the remains of his body is likely to be a long one
Nearly a fortnight after his death in an air crash near Lagos, the Nigerian authorities are moving pretty slowly to identify the bodies of nearly 170 victims, the family complains.
But the family is prepared to wait. They want the corpse, even if it is just one body part, to be buried in the local church cemetery near Neriamangalam in Ernakulam district.
Rijo’s father and brother-in-law, who had flown to Lagos eight days back to take the remains of the body home, are now stay put there waiting to hear for a concrete answer from the Nigerian authorities about body identification. Paul Mathew, Rijo’s uncle, told The Hindu that the governor of the Nigerian province where the air crash took place had, a couple of days back, called a meeting of the relatives of the victims. He had told them that only 24 bodies could be identified so far and that the rest could be identified only after matching the DNAs of the victims and their immediate relatives. The process of collecting relatives’ blood samples was going on.
Since Nigeria did not have the required lab facilities, the DNA matching would be done in the United States. This, the governor had said, would take about eight weeks. K.M. Eldhose, Rijo’s father and retired Army havildar, was now thinking of returning home without indefinitely waiting in Lagos. The Indian embassy had offered to help with sending the remains back home when the Nigerian authorities identified the body.
The June 3 air crash killed 153 persons on board a domestic airliner owned by an Indian company and about 40 on the ground. Only 24 bodies could be identified as the bodies were all mangled.
Rijo, a 26-year-old hardware engineer, had been working for Hewlett & Packard in Nigeria for more than three years. He was flying to Lagos from another city when the aircraft crashed a few kilometres outside the Lagos airport. His company is taking care of the travel and stay of his father and brother-in-law in Lagos. Rijo is survived by his parents and an elder sister.
The family has petitioned Vayalar Ravi, the Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, to urge the Nigerians authorities to speed up the process of body identification.