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CAIRO: Egypt is mourning the deaths of some of its leading scientists on board the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 that crashed on Sunday near the capital Addis Ababa, killing 157 people.

The group included Dr. Ashraf El-Turki, head of the Department of Pesticide Research at Egypt’s Agricultural Research Center, and a leading researcher in Africa and the Middle East. El-Turki had responsibility for the largest insect collection in the Middle East, which housed more than 6,000 species, and had carried out dozens of important studies related to agricultural quarantines and crop development in Egypt.

Also on the flight were assistant researcher Abdul Hamid Farraj and engineer Du’aa Atif Abdul Salam. Both were traveling to Nairobi on an assignment dealing with genetic research to improve animal and plant production. 

Other victims of the crash included Egyptian translators Susan Abu Faraj and Esmat Aransa, who were planning to join an official African Union mission in the Kenyan capital. The two had also worked as translators for several major international bodies.

The sixth victim was Nassar Al-Azb, a programmer in the computer department of Egyptian bank Banque Misr, who was on his way to Nairobi to attend a conference. 

Friends on social media described Al-Azb as one of Egypt’s top programmers.

Prof. Mahmoud Saqr, head of Egypt’s Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, told Arab News that he received the news of the crash of the Ethiopian flight “with great sadness.”

Meanwhile, a lawyer, Amr Abdelsalam, has urged the Attorney General Nabil Sadek to open an investigation into the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines flight, focusing on the deaths of the Egyptian scientists.

Abdelsalam said in a statement that El-Turki and two of the other victims “were on a private and official task assigned by the state for the improvement of animal and vegetable production in light of Egypt’s efforts to help in central Africa.”

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