An Ethiopian Airlines plane has crashed just shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa in Ethopia killing all on board.
The airline said 149 passengers and eight crew members were believed to be on flight ET302 from the Ethiopian capital to Nairobi in Kenya. None of the 157 people on board an Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed on Sunday morning en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi survived.
Thirty-two Kenyans, eighteen Canadians, nine Ethiopians, eight Chinese, eight Americans, and seven British citizens were among the passengers, according to Ethiopian Airlines. Four of the victims held United Nations passports.
The crash happened at 08.44 local time, six minutes after the months-old Boeing 737 Max-8 took off.
The plane took off at 8:38am (06:38 GMT) from Bole International Airport and “lost contact” six minutes later near Bishoftu.
It is not yet clear what caused the accident.
The CEO of Ethiopian Airlines Group, Tewolde GebreMariam “deeply regrets the fatal accident,” the airline posted on its Twitter account.
The statement reads; ”The group CEO, who is at the accident scene right now regrets to confirm that there are no survivors”, he expresses his “profound sympathy and condolences” to the families of all victims of the tragic accident.
A picture of GebreMariam accompanied the tweet by Ethiopian Airlines, he was lifting what appeared to be a piece of debris at the bottom of a large crater in an empty field.
The Prime Minister of Ethopia , Abiy Ahmed’s office tweeted it “would like to express its deepest condolences to the families of those that have lost their loved ones on Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 on regular scheduled flight to Nairobi, Kenya this morning.”
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta also offered condolences. “We are saddened by the news of an Ethiopian Airlines passenger aircraft that is reported to have crashed 6 minutes after takeoff en route to Kenya. My prayers go to all the families and associates of those on board,” Kenyatta said on Twitter.
Ethiopian Airlines in an earlier statement said it would send staff to the accident scene to “do everything possible to assist the emergency services”.
The crashed airplane; Boeing 737-800MAX is the same type of plane as the Indonesian Lion Air jet that crashed in October 2018, 13 minutes after lift-off from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board.
The 737 Max-8 aircraft is relatively new to the skies, having been launched in 2016. It was added to the Ethiopian Airlines fleet in July last year.
The last major accident involving an Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane was a Boeing 737-800 that exploded after taking off from Lebanon in 2010, killing 90 people on board.
The manufacturers of the aircraft; Boeing said it was “deeply saddened” about the accident and would provide technical assistance to find out why its aircraft crashed.
“A Boeing technical team is prepared to provide technical assistance at the request and under the direction of the US National Transportation Safety Board.”
The Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam told media reporters at a press conference that the pilot of flight ET 302 that crashed Sunday morning had revealed technical difficulties and requested clearance to return to Addis Ababa.
He was given clearance to revert, according to Mr. GebreMariam, citing the Air Traffic Controllers record.
The senior Ethiopian Airlines pilot had flown more than 8,000 hours. He had an “excellent flying record,” according to the CEO.
A typical maintenance check didn’t reveal any problems, he said. GebreMariam said they have not yet determined the reason for the crash.
“As I said, it is a brand new airplane with no technical remarks, flown by a senior pilot and there is no cause that we can attribute at this time.”
GebreMariam also confirmed the company owns 6 other 737 Max 8 aircraft which are in service. Asked about whether the company would be grounding them he explained they wouldn’t as “we don’t know the cause of the accident.”
The Boeing 737 Max 8 airplane had flown into Addis Ababa Sunday morning from Johannesburg on Flight ET858.
He added that the plane “is now right inside the ground” and it was not possible to identify whether it was an emergency landing or a crash. When he visited, he said there was still smoke at the site.
The victims are of 35 different nationalities including Nigeria, an airline spokeswoman says, including:
- 32 Kenya
- 18 Canada
- 9 Ethiopia
- 8 China
- 8 Italy
- 8 USA
- 7 France
- 7 UK
- 6 Egypt
- 5 Germany
- 4 India
- 4 Slovakia
- 3 Austria
- 3 Russia
- 3 Sweden
- 2 Spain
- 2 Israel
- 2 Morocco
- 2 Poland
- 1 Belgium
- 1 Djibouti
- 1 Indonesia
- 1 Ireland
- 1 Mozambique
- 1 Norway
- 1 Rwanda
- 1 Saudi
- 1 Sudan
- 1 Somalia
- 1 Serbia
- 1 Togo
- 1 Uganda
- 1 Yemen
- 1 Nepal
- 1 Nigeria
- 1 UN passport