Family members of the victims involved in a plane crash react at the airport. Picture: Mulugeta Ayene/AP Source:AP
Family members of the victims involved in a plane crash react at the airport. Picture: Mulugeta Ayene/AP Source:AP

157 killed in Ethiopian Airways plane crash

WARNING: Confronting images

Ethiopian Airlines has confirmed there were no survivors of Flight ET302, which crashed on its way to Nairobi.

There were 157 people, including eight crew on board the Boeing 737-800 Max - the same aircraft as involved in a deadly crash off Jakarta in October.

"Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO deeply regrets the fatal accident involved on ET 302 /March 10 on a scheduled flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi," it said on its Facebook page.

"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 and loved ones of passengers and crew who lost their lives in this tragic accident."

 

Ethiopia's state broadcaster Fana Broadcasting Corporate said the passengers included 33 nationalities.

Authorities said Canadians (18), Chinese (8), Americans (8), Italians (8), Indians (4), French (7), British (7), Dutch (5), Russian (3), Moroccan (2), Israeli (2), Belgian (1), Ugandan (1), Yemeni (1), Sudanese (1), Togolese (1), Mozambican (1), Norwegian (1) and Egyptians (6) were among the foreigners killed in the crash, along with Ethiopians (9) and Kenyans (32). Four held a UN passport.

Relatives of the victims involved in a plane crash wait for information at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, Kenya. Picture: AP
Relatives of the victims involved in a plane crash wait for information at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, Kenya. Picture: AP

 

James Macharia, Kenya's transport minister, told reporters that Kenyan authorities had not yet received the passenger manifest. He said an emergency response had been set up for family and friends.

The cause of the crash of the new Boeing 737-800 MAX plane is not immediately known.

Flight ET 302 crashed six minutes after taking off from Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, on a flight to Nairobi.

A statement from the airline on Sunday morning said the Boeing 737-800 MAX, registration number ET-AVJ, crashed around Bishoftu, or Debre Zeit, some 62km south of the capital, shortly after taking off at 8.38am local time, losing contact at 8.44am.

The Ethiopian prime minister's office in a separate, earlier statement offered condolences to families.

The Boeing 737-800 Max models involved in both crashes were only a few months old, raising concerns there could be an issue with the aircraft.

Both jets crashed shortly after takeoff, the Ethiopian Airlines flight losing contact six minutes after leaving the runway and the Lion Air flight crashing 13 minutes after leaving Jakarta.

Boeing said in a statement that it would offer Ethiopian Airlines technical support.

"Boeing is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a 737 MAX 8 airplane," spokesman Paul Bergman said.

"We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew on board and stand ready to support the Ethiopian Airlines team.

"A Boeing technical team is prepared to provide technical assistance at the request and under the direction of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board."

Ethiopian Airlines shared this photo with its latest update. Source:Supplied
Ethiopian Airlines shared this photo with its latest update. Source:Supplied

The crash came on the eve of a major, annual assembly of the UN Environment Programme opening in Nairobi.

In the Kenyan capital, family members, friends, and colleagues of passengers were frantically waiting for news at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

"I am still hoping that all is fine, because I have been waiting for my sister since morning and we have not been told anything," Peter Kimani told AFP in the arrivals lounge over an hour after the plane was scheduled to land at 10.25am local time.

His sister is a nurse who he said had gone to Congo.

"She travels a lot on missions."

"We are still expecting our loved one from Addis... we have just received news that there is a plane that has crashed. We can only hope that she is not on that flight."

 

HOPING FOR THE BEST

Among those waiting, Khalid Ali Abdulrahman received happy news about his son, who works in Dubai.

"I arrived here shortly after 10am and as I waited, a security person approached me and asked me which flight are you waiting for. I answered him quickly because I wanted him to direct me to the arrivals, so I told him Ethiopia, and then hes aid: 'Sorry, that one has crashed'."

"I was shocked, but shortly after, my son contacted me and told me he is still in Addis and did not board that flight, he is waiting for the second one which has been delayed," Khalid told AFP.

"I am waiting for my colleague, I just hope for the best," added Hannah, a Chinese national.

African Union commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat said he had learnt of the crash "with utter shock and immense sadness".

"Our prayers are with the families of the passengers and crew as authorities search for survivors. I also express our full solidarity with the Govt & people of Ethiopia," he said on Twitter.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's office tweeted it "would like to express its deepest condolences to the families of those that have lost their loved ones."

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta said he was "saddened" by the news, adding: "My prayers go to all the families and associates of those on board."

Mahboub Maalim, executive secretary of the IGAD East African bloc, said the region and the world were in mourning.

"I cannot seem to find words comforting enough to the families and friends of those who might have lost their lives in this tragedy," he said in a statement.

The state-owned Ethiopian Airlines calls itself Africa's largest carrier and has ambitions of becoming the gateway to the continent.

The crash comes as the country's reformist prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has vowed to open up the airline and other sectors to foreign investment in a major transformation of the state- centred economy. It said previously that it expected to carry 10.6 million passengers last year.

In 2010 one of the company's planes crashed in the Mediterranean Sea shortly after leaving Beirut, killing 90 people on board.

KEY FACTS ABOUT THE ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES CRASH:

* THE EVENTS

The Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed minutes after take off, with contact loss six minutes after it left Addis Ababa airport at 8.38am on Sunday

- It was carrying 149 passengers and 8 crew; there were no survivors

- The plane was a new Boeing 737 MAX 8

- The crash comes less than five months after a Lion Air crash involving the same model of plane in Indonesia 12 minutes after take-off, killing 189 people.

* THE PASSENGERS

- From 33 countries

- 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians, eight Italians, eight Chinese citizens, eight Americans, seven British citizens, seven French citizens, six Egyptians, five Dutch citizens, four Indians, four from Slovakia, three Austrians, three Swedes, three Russians, two Moroccans, two Spaniards, two Poles, two Israelis, and one each from Belgium, Indonesia, Somalia, Norway, Serbia, Togo, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda and Yemen.

- Four were using United Nations passports, so their nationalities are not immediately clear.

* OTHER CRASHES:

- November 1996 - flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi ran out of fuel and crashed into the Indian Ocean near the Comoros islands after it was hijacked by three men who demanded the pilot take them to Australia, leaving 125 of the 175 people on board dead

- January 2010 - an Ethiopian passenger plane heading for Addis Ababa crashed into the Mediterranean Sea after taking off from Beirut International Airport, killing all 83 passengers and seven crew members on board

- February 2014 - an Ethiopian Airlines jet en route from Addis Ababa to Milan was hijacked and diverted to Geneva by its co-pilot, Hailemedhin Tegegn, who claimed he was seeking asylum in Switzerland. No one on board the plane was harmed.


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