by Jonathan Rashad
On May 19, 2016, hours after its disappearance, officials confirmed that an EgyptAir plane bound for Cairo from France’s Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris had crashed in the Mediterranean. All sixty-six people onboard died, among them 30 Egyptian citizens and 15 French citizens. The cause of the crash remains a mystery.
As the investigation and search continues, families and friends of the EgyptAir Flight 804 victims mourn the loss of their loved ones.
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Takreem Mortada, 42, husband of Marwa Hamdy, and their sons; Aly (left),12, Mohamed, 10 and Ahmed, 17 at their place in Cairo, Egypt. Marwa, a 42- year-old Egyptian-Canadian passenger, was visiting Paris for a week to spend time with her sister. She was an employee and business control manager at IBM. “We knew each other since the first day of university. We both studied at the American University in Cairo. Over the period of four years of studying, we were close friends. Marwa was certified in pranic healing and she helped many friends through her part-time hobby. She is a person who devoted her life for others, her house, and her kids. She did few things for herself,” he said. “I remember my mom with the toys she used to bring me all the time. She is beautiful. We used to go out for dinners and walk in shopping malls,” Marwa’s youngest son, Mohamed, said. “I went to France with mom once. We stayed in Paris for one week and we walked around the streets and ate a lot of crepes. She was always positive and always encouraged me to overcome my obstacles in life. She was brave, kind, caring and inspiring. My mom and I texted each other one day before the incident and I told her “I can wait to see you tomorrow.” We were supposed to go to a shopping mall when she gets back to Cairo,” Aly said.. “She was a very caring mother and person. She helped many people through pranic healing. Through donations, my mom did a lot of charity and helped orphaned and poor kids. I never expected to be an orphan one day,” said Marwa’s eldest son, Ahmed.
Khaled El-Tabbakh, 27, an EgyptAir co-pilot. Tabbakh was the best friend of Mohamed Mamdouh, the 24-year-old co-pilot who was on the EgyptAir MS804 flight. “His spirit and sense of humor always brought joy and happiness to our circle of friends. He was always funny. We worked with each other during double-crew flights. I helped him throughout the entire year in academy, in terms of studying. Prior to being an active co-pilot, he worked side by side with me during his training. Over the period of the past six years, we did everything together; work, travel, hanging out with each other. And technically living with each other. When he was present in Cairo, we spent the whole time together. He was not a friend. He was part of my family.”
Hesham Ezzat, 32, a French-Egyptian DJ and a childhood friend of Karim Swellam, a 32-year-old French-Egyptian passenger who died in the crash. Karim and his girlfriend Isabelle Genin were both on the flight. Their final destination was Cairo. “Karim was planning on introducing Isabelle to his parents after they arrived in Cairo. I knew Karim since kindergarten. We were in the same class for twelve years. On average, throughout the entire period of school, we were a total of six students in our class. That is an another reason we were very close. We were neighbors as well. Everybody from his school friends is affected by his death. In solidarity, we are all trying to help his parents through these harsh times,” Hesham said. “Karim was a volunteer firefighter in France. He engaged in the volunteer program for six years on a regular basis. He was a smart, calm and pragmatic person,” he added.
Ezz-Eldin Safwat, 61, Amal Mohsen, 52, and their son Safwat Ezz-Eldin Safwat, 25, are the family of Samar Ezz-Eldin, a 27 year-old flight attendant who died in the crash. “She called me right before flying from Paris and told me how she enjoyed walking the streets of the Champs-Élysées. It was her first time in France as cabin crew, and in general. She was very excited to share her stories from France when she got back,” Amal Mohsen, Samar’s mother, said.
Sarmad Haqi, 42 and his wife Amara Cellali, 44. Haqi is the son of 62-year-old Najlah Al-Salihi, an Iraqi passenger who was on the flight. “She was going from Paris to Baghdad. She was in Paris for medical reasons. We were supposed to meet in Erbil after she arrives in Baghdad. That is not possible now. She is dead. My mom always helped the migrants financially. She was a great mother,” said Sarmad “She is not only my husband’s mother, she is my mother as well. She was the one took care of me after my mother’s death. She supported me a lot. Najlah gave so much money to the widows of her village, so they can help their sons and daughters. She was a mother to many others.”
Eman Samy, 39, wife of Ahmed Helal, a 41-year-old French-Egyptian passenger. Helal was a plant manager of Procter & Gamble in France’s Amiens region. “He was a caring husband and dad. He helped many people in need, including orphans, hospitals in need for financial support and patients in medical need. He was a generous person. He even gave salaries on a monthly basis for people in need of financial support. Even though he was extremely successful and had 3,000 employees working under him, he always prioritized and gave time to his family and friends. He cared about his family more than he cared about himself and his work,” she said.
Hany Farag, 58, father of Yara Hany, a 26-year-old flight attendant. “I met many people at the funeral. I didn’t know that my daughter had so many friends. She was full of life. She was an angel. I can’t say more about her. It’s painful,” he said.
Jonathan Rashad is a self-taught documentary photographer who grew up in Cairo and started his career in 2008. He has covered events in Egypt as they have unfolded over the past few years. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanRashad