An Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after takeoff from Ethiopia’s capital on Sunday morning, killing all 157 on board, authorities said, as grieving families rushed to airports in Addis Ababa and the destination, Nairobi. More than 30 nationalities are among the dead.
It was not immediately clear what caused the crash of the Boeing 737-8 MAX plane, which was new and had been delivered to the airline in November. The pilot sent out a distress call and was given clearance to return, the airline’s CEO told reporters.
The state-owned Ethiopian Airlines, widely considered the best-managed airline in Africa, calls itself Africa’s largest carrier and has ambitions of becoming the gateway to the continent. It is known as an early buyer of new aircraft as it assertively expands.
The airline said 149 passengers and eight crew members were thought to be on the plane. Kenyans, Canadians, Chinese, Americans, Ethiopians, Italians, French, British, Egyptians, Indians, Slovakians and others were among the dead, said the airline’s CEO, Tewolde Gebremariam.
The plane crashed six minutes after departing Addis Ababa on its way to Kenya’s capital, plowing into the ground at Hejere near Bishoftu, or Debre Zeit, some 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Addis Ababa, at 8:44 a.m.
The airline later published a photo showing its CEO standing in the wreckage. Little of the plane could be seen in the freshly churned earth, under a blue sky.
“Tewolde Gebremariam, who is at the accident scene now, regrets to confirm that there are no survivors,” the post on social media said. “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.”
The plane had showed unstable vertical speed after takeoff, air traffic monitor Flightradar 24 said in a Twitter post. Visibility was clear.
State broadcaster EBC reported that 33 nationalities were among the victims. The airline’s CEO said those included 32 Kenyans and nine Ethiopians. Authorities said other victims include 18 Canadians; eight each from China, the United States and Italy; seven each from France and Britain; six from Egypt; five from the Netherlands and four each from India and Slovakia.
Another twist of the event as the United State Department of state: Consular Affairs on the 8th of March gave a warning or security alert that had this in writing.
“# Ethopia Security Alert: The U.S Embassy is aware of call for a protest to be held on March 10, at Meskel Square. Protests whave already occurred in many parts of Oromia region since March 6. U.S Government have been advised not to arrive or depart International Airport on March 10, and U.s Embassy are also temporarily prohibited from traveling to Oromia.’