Saturday 20 January 2018

Dad sold everything for wife's cancer treatment both killed in doomed EgyptAir flight

Grief: Film director Osman Abu Laban lost four relatives Photo: AP Photo/Amr Nabil
Grief: Film director Osman Abu Laban lost four relatives Photo: AP Photo/Amr Nabil

Simon Tisdall

Among the victims on board the doomed EgyptAir flight was a husband and wife who had sold everything to pay for lifesaving cancer treatment and now leave behind their three young children as orphans.

Ahmed Ashery (31) sold his family's flat and car to raise money so his wife, Reham, could undergo cancer surgery in France.

The couple left their young son and two daughters with his mother and spent a month in Paris, where Mrs Ashery had surgery and seemed on the path to a full recovery.

Read More: EgyptAir jet pilot joked with controllers before crash

They boarded Flight 804 on Wednesday night, excited to be reunited with their children, but the plane never made it back to Cairo.

"Ahmed sold everything to save his wife and ease her grief," said Mohamed al-Shenawi, a family friend.

"I advised him to accept the command of God and look for treatment in Egypt, but he insisted on travelling. They spent a month and then they returned on board the plane which didn't arrive and now will never arrive."

Read More: EgyptAir crash: Investigators say it's too soon for conclusions as flight data seems to 'point towards a bomb'

Family and friends of flight attendant Yara Hani gathered at a Coptic church in Cairo to grieve around a large cross of white flowers with a picture of the young woman.

Her grandmother stood in front of the picture crying: "Yara, answer me, I want hold you."

Her mother described her unmarried daughter as "a bride for heaven".

Earlier in the day, the family were asked by EgyptAir to provide DNA samples to help with eventual identification of bodies.

So far, a few human parts but no full bodies have been recovered.

Read More: Experts say explosion brought down EgyptAir flight with loss of 66 lives

The aircraft was carrying 56 passengers, including a child and two infants, and 10 crew. They included 30 Egyptian and 15 French nationals, along with citizens of 10 other countries. Egyptair said officials met family members and told them the process of gathering body parts and information would take time, while DNA testing to identify victims would require weeks.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who met relatives of crash victims in Paris on Saturday, said there were several possible causes. "At this very moment all scenarios are being examined and none is being given greater emphasis," he said.

France sent a plane and navy ship to help the search, centred on an area just south of where the signal from the plane was lost early on Thursday. EgyptAir chairman Safwat Moslem said the radius of the search zone was 40 nautical miles, but could be expanded. The radius is equivalent to an area of 5,000 square miles, the same n the initial hunt for the Air France jet in 2009.

Sunday Independent

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