The Guardian — In Mit Badr Halawa, red-eyed women in black huddle on street corners, and alleys that would normally echo with tinny music, the sounds of children’s games and the shouts of friendly jokes and arguments are quiet. The only busy area is outside a mosque, where hundreds have turned out to pay their respects to friends and loved ones.
“Grief is camped over this village,” says farmer Hassan El-Ashry. This sleepy settlement on the banks of the Nile has been virtually silenced by the devastating and disproportionate scale of its losses in the crash of EgyptAir flight MS804. A father, his 18-month-old daughter and two other locals whose families lived just a few streets away from each other have all been lost in the Mediterranean, four of the disaster’s 30 Egyptian victims.
On Friday, the first pieces of wreckage from the plane they had boarded in Paris were found in a massive maritime search operation. “I knew, when that plane had gone down, that people from the village would be on it,” says Mohamed Shadad, a professor of neurosurgery and cousin of two victims. “I often took that flight myself when I was studying in Europe, and there was always someone I knew on it.
“Then, two hours later my brother called and said: ‘Haitham was on that plane, and Donia [his 18-month-old daughter] was with him’.” A second brother, Hassan, was given the news in even more brutal form, logging on to Facebook to see his cousin’s face pop up beside news of the crash.
The other victims were neighbour Khalid Allam, in his 40s, and 32-year-old Khalid Tantawi, who had been on holiday. “Our friend was teasing him, saying: ‘why are you always running around? You should save your money.’ He said: ‘I want to see the world before I die,’” Hassan says.
Mit Badr Halawa is a village closely tied to France by decades of immigration, historic links which have never, however, diminished the community at home. Sons are sent to earn a living in markets and building sites but often return to start families, to retire, or at least to visit for the holidays.
With the holy month of Ramadan just a couple of weeks away, many inhabitants were back or making plans to return soon, and several of the mourners had taken the same flight days earlier. Egyptian military says debris from plane found in Mediterranean, after EgyptAir rowed back on announcement that wreckage had been spotted. click here more www.theguardian.com
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