- An Ethiopian Airlines plane has crashed en route to Nairobi leaving 157 people dead.
- There were 149 passengers and 8 crew members on board. No survivors were found after an intense fire at the scene.
- The plane, a new Boeing 737MAX, crashed near the town of Bishoftu, near the capital Addis Ababa.
- This is the second Boeing 737MAX to crash in recent months.
- The prime minister tweeted his condolences to the families of those affected.
157 people have died after an Ethiopian Airlines flight to Nairobi crashed shortly after take-off leaving no survivors.
Flight ET 302 crashed at 8:44 a.m. on Sunday morning near the town of Bishoftu, 62 kilometers southeast of the capital Addis Ababa, with 149 passengers and 8 crew.
An eyewitness told the BBC there was an intense fire at the scene.
“The blast and the fire were so strong that we couldn’t get near it,” the witness said. “Everything is burnt down. There are four helicopters at the scene now.”
Local search and rescue operations moved into immediate action.
“Ethiopian Airlines regrets to confirm that its flight ET 302/10 March in schedule service from Addis Ababa to Nairobi was involved in an accident today around Bishoftu (Debre Zeit)” an initial statement by the airline said.
“The aircraft B-737-800MAX… took off at 08.38 a local time from Addis Ababa, Bole International Airport and lost contact at 08.44 am.”
The flight’s captain was Yared Getachew who had more than 8,000 cumulative flight hours, the airline said. The flight’s first officer was Ahmed Nur Mohammod Nur who had just 200 hours. It’s unclear how many of the pilots’ flight hours were in the Boeing 737MAX.
- REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
The brand new Boeing 737-MAX8, registration ET-AVJ, was just delivered to Ethiopian Airlines in November 2018.
According to the airline, the aircraft underwent a rigorous “first check maintenance” on February 4 and had flown back to Addis Ababa from Johannesburg, South Africa earlier in the morning.
The cause of the crash is not yet known. However, flight tracking website Flightradar24 detected that the flight had shown “unstable vertical speed” before crashing.
The Ethiopian prime minister’s office tweeted his condolences to the families of those lost in the crash.
“The Office of the PM, on behalf of the Government and people of Ethiopia, would like to express it’s deepest condolences to the families of those that have lost their loved ones on Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 on regular scheduled flight to Nairobi, Kenya this morning,” Abiy Ahmed’s official account tweeted on Sunday.
Ethiopian Flight ET302 is the second Boeing 737MAX to be involved in a fatal crash in recent months.
Lion Air Flight 610 crashed in the Java Sea shortly after taking off from Jakarta, Indonesia, on October 28. All 189 people on board the flight were killed. Flight JT610 marked the first fatal crash involving Boeing’s next-generation 737 Max aircraft.
However, it should be noted that beyond the shared aircraft type, there is currently no link between the two incidents.
“Boeing is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a 737 MAX 8 airplane,” the airplane maker 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.”
According to Boeing, the company will send a team to the crash site to provide technical assistance under the guidance of the Ethiopia Accident Investigation Bureau and US National Transportation Safety Board.
Benjamin Zhang contributed to this story.