Seven Britons among 157 killed as Ethiopian Boeing 737 crashes on way to Nairobi
London, March 10, 2019 (AltAfrica)-Seven Britons were among 157 people killed after an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed shortly after take-off on Sunday morning, officials have said.
Some 149 passengers and eight crew members were thought to be on board the Boeing jet that crashed six minutes after departing Ethiopia‘s capital on Sunday.
Kenya’s transport minister James Macharia said today there were passengers from at least 35 countries on board flight ET302 from Addis Ababa to Nairobi in Kenya.
He told reporters 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians and eight Americans were also among the passengers.
The crash occurred around 31 miles south of the capital at around 8.44am local time (5.44am GMT).
It was not immediately clear what had caused the crash of the Boeing 737 Max-8 plane, which was new and had been delivered to the airline in November, records show.
Witnesses told of an intense fire as the aircraft hit the ground.
“The blast and the fire were so strong that we couldn’t get near it,” an eyewitness told the BBC.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the crash as he offered his “deepest condolences” to families on Twitter on Sunday morning.
The PM’s office tweeted: “The office of the PM, on behalf of government and people of Ethiopia, would like to express it’s 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.”
Airline chief Tewolde Gebremariam expressed his “profound sympathy and condolences” to loved ones of the passengers and crew as he confirmed there were no survivors.
The Ethiopian Airlines CEO visited the crash site following the accident.
In an earlier statement, the airline said search and rescue operations were under way at the scene.
An Ethiopian Airlines spokesman said 32 Kenyans and 17 Ethiopians were among the victims.
Boeing Airplanes tweeted that the firm was “aware of reports of an airplane accident and is closely monitoring the situation”.
In October, another of its 737 Max-8 aircraft was involved in a crash when a Lion Air flight plunged into the sea near Indonesia killing nearly 190 people on board.
The cockpit data recorder showed that the jet’s airspeed indicator had malfunctioned on its last four flights, though Lion Air initially claimed that problems with the aircraft had been fixed.
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.
“My prayers go to all the families and associates of those on board,” Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said, as many Kenyans braced for the worst.
Flight tracking website FlightRadar24 said earlier that the flight had “unstable vertical speed” after take-off.
The last deadly crash of an Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane was in 2010, when the plane crashed minutes after take-off from Beirut, killing all 90 people on board.
Sunday’s 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.
Ethiopian Airlines has been expanding assertively, recently opening a route to Moscow and in January inaugurating a new passenger terminal in Addis Ababa to triple capacity.
Speaking at the inauguration, the prime minister challenged the airline to build a new “Airport City” terminal in Bishoftu – where Sunday’s crash occurred.
“My prayers go to all the families and associates of those on board,” said Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta.
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 (ES)