What Does Black Box from Ethiopian Airlines Crash Reveal? Victims' Families Offered Soil from Crash Site in Lieu of Remains

Investigators have gleaned new information on the cause of the Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crash, including details on the jet's behavior in the moments leading up to the catastrophe. Meanwhile, with DNA confirmation of all passenger and crew remains still far in the offing, the carrier is offering bereaved families charred earth from the crash site to bury in lieu of their loved ones' remains.

Analysis of the black box from the doomed Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 shows the plane had an unusually high speed after take-off before reporting problems and asking permission to climb quickly, according to Reuters, citing a source familiar with the air traffic control reporting.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the nature of the investigation, the source told Reuters that a voice from the cockpit of the Boeing 737 MAX requested to climb to 14,000 feet above sea level — about 6,400 feet above the airport — before "urgently asking to return."

"He said he had a flight control problem. That is why he wanted to climb," the source said in the article, adding that the voice, which belonged to either Captain Yared Getachew or first officer Ahmed Nur Mohammed, sounded nervous.

The aircraft's ground speed after departure was unusually high, the Reuters source said, reaching around 400 knots minutes after departure – nearly twice as fast the normal speed.

No more than two minutes later, the voice requested permission to return, which was granted on condition that he turn to the right due to the proximity of Addis Ababa on the left.

After starting the turn, the plane disappeared from radar at an altitude of 10,800 feet above sea level, the highest it reached during the six-minute flight. Addis Ababa's runway is at a high elevation of around 7,600 feet, suggesting the doomed jet reached a maximum of 3,000 feet above the ground.

BEA, the French agency for civil aviation safety, began technical work on the cockpit voice recorder from Ethiopian Airlines flight 302, it said in a tweet on Saturday.

According to TIME, Ethiopian Transport Minister Dagmawit Moges said that it would take as long as six months to identify the victims of the crash, in which 157 passengers from 35 nations perished.

Due to the length of time needed, workers are gathering 1-kilogram (2.2-pound) sacks of scorched earth taken from the crash sites, and giving them to the crash victims families, members of two families with loved ones in the crash told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid "possible government reprisal," the article noted.

"The soil came as it became impossible to identify bodies and hand over remains to family members," one family member said. "We will not rest until we are given the real body or body parts of our loved ones."

Around 100 relatives, including the brother and father of pilot Yared Getachew, gathered at a memorial for the victims at the Kenyan embassy Saturday.

"His dream was to be a pilot," Meno Getachew Tessema, Yared's brother, told Yahoo News. "He was diligent, hardworking, he had a consistent work ethic. I would like to emphasize his record and that he was a rising star at Ethiopian Airlines."