Ethiopian Airlines Plane Crashes En Route to Nairobi

The scene of the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash.

An Ethiopian Airlines flight has crashed on its way to Nairobi. Ethiopia's prime minister has sent condolences to families who lost loved ones. Search and rescue operations are in progress.

The Ethiopian prime minister's official Twitter account on Sunday expressed condolences to families of those lost in an Ethiopian Airline's flight to Nairobi.

"The office of the PM, on behalf of government and people of Ethiopia, would like to express its deepest condolences to the families that have lost their loved ones on Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 on regular scheduled flight to Nairobi, Kenya this morning," the PM's office said on Twitter.

The flight had 149 passengers and eight crew members aboard, said an Ethiopian Airlines spokesman.

"We hereby confirm that our scheduled flight ET 302 from Addis Ababa to Nairobi was involved in accident today," the airline said in a statement.

"The crash occurred around Bishoftu, or Debre Zeit, some 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of the capital, shortly after taking off at 8:38 a.m. local time."

The cause of the crash was not immediately known.

After take-off

The plane dropped from radar six minutes after departing from Addis Ababa, according to aviation analyst Alex Macheras, who tweeted the ill-fated jet was a brand new Boeing 737 MAX delivered to the airline just four months ago.

"This is the second major, fatal accident involving the Boeing 737 MAX 8 in less than five months, including October's Lion Air crash," Macheras told DW.

The Lion Air crash, which killed all 189 people on board, is Indonesia's second-worst air disaster, after the 1997 Garuda Indonesia crash near Medan, which killed 234 people.

The last major accident involving an Ethiopian Airlines plane was a Boeing 737-800 that exploded after taking off from Lebanon in 2010, killing 83 passengers and seven crew.

kw/ng (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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