Ethiopian Airlines plane crash kills all 157 people on board

0
1858

Ethiopian Airlines plane crash kills all 157 people on board

The aircraft, carrying passengers from 35 countries, was only months old and of the same type involved in a previous disaster.

Seven Britons and an Irish citizen are among the dead, the authorities have confirmed.

The Boeing 737-8 MAX was on a regular scheduled flight to Nairobi in Kenya, when it came down shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa.

The airline said the plane had crashed near the town of Bishoftu, some 31 miles (50km) southeast of the Ethiopian capital.

The jet left the airport at 8.38am local time before losing contact with the control tower at 8:44am.

The airline’s chief executive Tewolde GebreMariam has said the pilot, who had an “excellent flying record”, reported difficulties and had requested permission to turn back.

The plane “had an unstable vertical speed” after take-off, according to the flight tracking website Flightradar24.

Kenya’s transport secretary James Macharia described the crash as a “regrettable incident”.

He said Kenyan authorities were trying to find out exactly what happened, but because the plane came down in Ethiopian airspace they had limited information.

Mr Macharia told reporters: “It is a very sensitive emotional matter.

“We are waiting for more information to come from Ethiopian Airlines.

“What we are doing ourselves is to provide as much support as possible to relatives and friends waiting to meet passengers.”

He said they would be taken to a hotel at Nairobi airport where an emergency centre had been set up to provide them with support and assistance.

Among the relatives at Nairobi airport was Wendy Otieno, clutching her phone and weeping.

She said: “We’re just waiting for my mum. We’re just hoping she took a different flight or was delayed. She’s not picking up her phone.”

The aircraft is just a few months old, having taken its first flight at the end of October.

It is the same type as the Lion Air plane which crashed into the sea off Indonesia last year killing all 189 on board.

In the wake of that disaster, Boeing issued a warning to airlines using its 737 MAX planes after a sensor failure was identified as a potential cause of the crash.

Ethiopian Airlines said in a statement that it “deeply regrets the fatal accident”.

It 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 

The airline, which changed its Twitter account cover photo to black following the disaster, has posted emergency numbers to call.

The Ethiopian prime minister’s office has also offered condolences to families.

Boeing said it was “deeply saddened” at the tragedy.

It said in a statement: “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 US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).”

The NTSB has confirmed it is to send a team to assist the investigation.

Ethiopian Airlines is one of the biggest carriers in Africa by fleet size.

It has said previously it expected to carry 10.6 million passengers last year.

The airline’s last major crash was in January 2010, when a flight from Beirut went down shortly after take-off.