London Ethiopians offer prayers and condolences to flight victims

London's Ethiopian community gathered Sunday to celebrate the 123rd anniversary of Adwa Victory Day. But the celebratory event was marked by sadness for victims of the plane crash in Addis Ababa.

The London Ethiopian community was shocked and saddened by news of the death of 157 people.

Rescuers work at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines flight crash near Bishoftu, or Debre Zeit, south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Mulugeta Ayene/Associated Press)

 London's Ethiopian community gathered Sunday to celebrate the 123 anniversary of Adwa Victory Day. But the celebratory event was marked by sadness for victims of the plane crash near Addis Ababa. 

18 Canadians were among the 157 killed when a Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft went down shortly after taking off for Nairobi.

"It was very shocking," said Petros Aka, secretary of the London Ethiopian Association. "As a human being, the news was shocking to everyone." 

Aka said he didn't know anyone on the flight but he was concerned about a friend's brother who is a captain with Ethiopian Airlines. 

"The first thing on my mind was, 'Was he the one flying the aircraft?'" said Aka. 

He called his friend and spoke with his wife. She had not heard about the crash when Aka called so she frantically placed a call to her in-laws to learn more. 

"Lucky enough he was not the person flying the aircraft."

Aka also attended the Adwa Victory Day celebration. It's the day in 1896 when Ethiopians secured 40 years of sovereignty after the Kingdom of Italy attempted to expand its colonial empire. 

That celebration included a moment of silence to honour those killed in Sunday's crash. 

"I would like to express on behalf of the Ethiopian-London community our condolences and sympathies to the families of those who have lost their loved ones. Our prayers and thoughts will always be with them."

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