Africa

‘No survivors’ in Ethiopia plane crash

An Ethiopian Airlines jet has crashed shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa, killing all on board.

The airline said 149 passengers and eight crew members were on flight ET302 from the Ethiopian capital to Nairobi in Kenya.

It said 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, eight Americans and seven British nationals were among the passengers.

The crash happened at 08:44 local time, six minutes after the months-old Boeing 737 Max-8 took off.

The cause of the disaster is not yet clear. However, the pilot had reported difficulties and had asked to return to Addis Ababa, the airline said.

“At this stage, we cannot rule out anything,” Ethiopian Airlines Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tewolde Gebremariam told reporters at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa.

“We cannot also attribute the cause to anything because we will have to comply with the international regulation to wait for the investigation.”

Visibility was said to be good but air traffic monitor Flightradar24 reported that the plane’s “vertical speed was unstable after take-off”.

An eyewitness at the scene told the BBC there was an intense fire as the aircraft hit the ground.

“The blast and the fire were so strong that we couldn’t get near it,” he said. “Everything is burnt down.”

First word of the crash came when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expressed his “deepest condolences” on Twitter.

The airline said that search and rescue operations were under way near the crash site around the town of Bishoftu, which is 60km (37 miles) south-east of the capital.

Mr Gebremariam told the news conference that passengers from more than 30 countries were on board the flight.

He said they included 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians, eight Italians, eight Chinese, eight Americans, seven Britons, seven French citizens, six Egyptians, five Dutch citizens, four Indians and four people from Slovakia.

Slovak Member of Parliament (MP) Anton Hrnko later confirmed via Facebook that his wife and two children were on the plane.

Three Austrians, three Swedes, three Russians, two Moroccans, two Spaniards, two Poles and two Israelis were also on the flight.

There was also one passenger each from Belgium, Indonesia, Somalia, Norway, Serbia, Togo, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda and Yemen.

Four people held United Nations passports, the airline said, and it believed some passengers could have been heading to a session of the UN Environment Assembly which begins in Nairobi on Monday. –BBC

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