10 March 2019

Ethiopian Airlines Flight to Nairobi Crashes

Photo: SABC Digital News/YouTube
The scene of the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash.

An Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa crashed en route on Sunday morning, leaving no survivors, the airline has announced.

First news of the crash came in an announcement from the office of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, which said on Twitter that it "would like to express its deepest condolences to the families of those that have lost their loved ones..."

An Ethiopian Airlines statement issued at 11 am Addis time confirmed that flight ET 302 "was involved in an accident today around Bishoftu (Debre Zeit).

The airline said Bole International Airport in Addis lost contact with the Boeing 737-800 MAX aircraft six minutes after it took off at 8.38 am local time.

"It is believed that there were 149 passengers and eight crew onboard the flight but we are currently confirming the details of the passenger manifest..."

A second bulletin issued at 1.46 pm Addis time added: "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."

From Nairobi, the East African reports an airline spokesman as saying that people of 33 nationalities were on board the plane. President Uhuru Kenyatta tweeted his condolences to the families of those on board.

The BBC reports Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam as saying that the pilot told airport flight controllers that he was having difficulty and had been cleared to return. The aircraft had arrived from South Africa earlier on Sunday.

The BBC said 32 passengers were Kenyan, 18 Canadian, nine Ethiopian, eight Chinese, eight Italian, eight American, seven British, seven French, six Egyptian, five Dutch, four Indian, three Russian, two Moroccan and two Israeli. There was one passenger from each of the following countries: Belgium, Uganda, Yemen, Sudan, Togo, Mozambique and Norway.

Earlier, Deutsche Welle reported that an aviation analyst said the aircraft - which was delivered only four months ago - was of the same type as an aircraft which crashed in Indonesia last October.

The aircraft manufacturer, Boeing, said it was "deeply saddened" to hear of the deaths and was ready to support Ethiopian Airlines. "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," it added.

This report has been updated to include the airline's later statement, that from Boeing and details from the BBC.

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