Aviation disasters generally bring the international community together whether it be in mourning or service, and the crash of an EgyptAir jetliner has been no exception. While flying en route from Paris to Cairo early Thursday, EgyptAir Flight 804 crashed into the Mediterranean with 66 people on board, including two infants and a child. As more information about the identities of the 56 passengers and 10 crew members who were lost in the crash comes to light, the true extent of this human tragedy becomes clearer. Yet so often when misfortune strikes overseas it can be difficult to know if or how you can help those affected. Despite the physical distance, there are ways to help the families of EgyptAir crash victims.
Hundreds gathered at Abu Bakr El Seddik Mosque in Cairo on Friday to mourn and pray for those lost in the apparent crash, which include 30 Egyptians, 15 French citizens, two Iraqis, and one passenger each from Britain, Canada, Belgium, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Sudan, Chad, and Portugal.
Although Egyptian officials said the Navy began pulling pieces of wreckage and human remains from the crash site roughly 180 miles off the coast of Alexandria on Saturday, no bodies have yet to be found or identified by authorities leaving families with the struggle of mourning without the bodies of their loved ones.
But what can be done to assist the families and friends of victims as they continue to wait for information — that could take weeks or months to come — about why Flight 804 crashed and what happened to their loved ones?
Reach Out To Those Reaching Out To The Families
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies announced Thursday its Egyptian arm was providing psychosocial support to the families of passengers on Flight 804 with a team of 11 trained Egyptian Red Crescent volunteers on hand at the Cairo airport. "All of us have been shocked by this tragic news," Moamena Kamel, Secretary General of Egyptian Red Crescent Society said. "For the Red Crescent, our immediate focus is on providing much-needed support to the families and others who have been emotionally affected. Our teams will continue to provide psychosocial support in the days to come."
Although there is currently no way to donate directly to the families of EgyptAir passengers you could, if you wanted, show your support for the grief counseling and emotional aid the Red Crescent is providing them with a donation to the organization. Donations to the Egyptian Red Crescent Society can be made easily online.
Learn About A Non-Profit That Is Focused On Aviation Disasters
Another organization apparently reaching out to assist relatives of EgyptAir Flight 804 victims is the U.S.-based AirCraft Casualty Emotional Support Services (ACCESS). The non-profit group aims to connect the loved ones of aviation disaster victims with professionally trained volunteers that have experienced a similar loss.
ACCESS' founder Heidi Snow spoke to CNN's Ashleigh Banfield on Friday regarding how devastating and lengthy the grieving process is likely to be for EgyptAir Flight 804 families given the relatively slow nature of aviation accident investigations. "The reality is it's going to be a really long and hard process," Snow said. "[Investigators] do their best to make sure not to mislead the families but as new information comes out, sometimes, it gets transformed into something that isn't true and so then the families have to go back and deal with information that may have not been accurate... that is a most difficult time when that information starts coming in and having to give away all that hope that you're holding on to and suddenly have to accept that they may truly be gone."
There are a few different ways to help ACCESS continue to assist the loved ones of aviation disaster victims in coping with their loss, including charitable donations and volunteering and mentorship opportunities.
Offer Your Support
In times of tragedy, a sympathetic extension of your condolences can often be all it takes to provide momentary comfort to someone experiencing loss. Whether it was a technical malfunction, a freak accident, or an act of terrorism that brought down Flight 804, the death of its 66 passengers is a senseless loss of life. Despite what differences may divide us, grief is a universal emotion and support, sympathy, thoughts, and prayers can go a long way. Many world leaders and high-profile personalities like Pope Francis have offered their condolences to the relatives of EgyptAir passengers and you can too via the #EgyptAir hashtag on Twitter and Facebook.