BREAKING NEWS

BREAKING NEWS

'No survivors' in Ethiopian Airlines crash, CEO confirms

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The scene of the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash, March 10, 2019
The scene of the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash, March 10, 2019 -
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REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
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An Ethiopian Airlines flight travelling from Addis Ababa to Nairobi crashed on Sunday morning killing all 157 people onboard, the company has confirmed.

"The group CEO who is at the accident scene right now regrets to confirm that there are no survivors," the airline posted on Twitter alongside a picture.

The Boeing plane was carrying 149 passengers and eight crew members.

The B-737-800MAX aircraft "took off at 08:38 am local time from Addis Ababa, Bole International Airport and lost contact at 08:44am," the company said in a first statement.

It crashed near the town of Bishoftu, 62 kilometres southeast of the capital Addis Ababa.

"Ethiopian Airlines staff will be sent to the accident scene and will do everything possible to assist the emergency services," the airline said.

The victims

Little is known about the victims' identities so far but in a Facebook Live press conference CEO Tewolde Gebremariam disclosed that citizens from 35 different countries were on the plane.

Thirty-two were Kenyans, 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians, eight Italians, eight Chinese citizens, eight Americans, seven British citizens, seven French citizens, six Egyptians, five Dutch citizens, four Indians, four people from Slovakia, three Austrians, three Swedes, three Russians, two Moroccans, two Spaniards, two Poles and two Israelis.

Belgium, Indonesia, Somalia, Norway, Serbia, Togo, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda and Yemen each had one citizen on board and four passengers were carrying UN passports.

The Spanish Foreign Ministry announced that it "is in contact with the families of 2 Spanish citizens in the passengers list.

'Vertical speed was unstable'

The flight was scheduled to land in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, at 10:25, according to Flight Radar, a Sweden-based website tracking air traffic.

According to the website, "additional data from Flightradar24 ADS-B network show that vertical speed was unstable after take off."

The Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft had performed its first flight in October 2018, it also said on Twitter.

It is the same model as the Lion Air aircraft which crashed in the Java Sea, in Indonesia, in October 2018, killing all 189 passengers and crew aboard.

CEO Tewolde Gebremariam told reporters that they had "not been able to determine the cause of the crash" but that the pilot had reported difficulties shortly after take-off and requested to turn around.

The plane, he added, was "brand new" and had arrived earlier in the morning from Johannesburg in South Africa and that there had been "no remark".

The pilot, named as Yared Getachew, had registered more than 8,000 flight hours.

Boeing said in a statement that "a technical team will be travelling to the crash site to provide technical assistance under the direction of the Ethiopia Accident Investigation Bureau and the US National Transportation Safety Board."

The American company added: "We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew on board."

'Deepest condolences'

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed offered his "deepest condolences to the families of those that have lost their loved ones," his office said on Twitter.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta wrote on Twitter that he is "saddened" by the crash.

"My prayers go to all the families and associates of those on board," he added.

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his " sincere condolences to the families and friends of the Ethiopian Airlines flight's victims, among which several French citizens."

"We share their sorrow. France stands by the people of Ethiopia and Kenya, and expresses its full solidarity," he added.

The British embassy in Ethiopia has also taken to the social media platform to say that it is monitoring the situation "closely and will provide updates to British nationals here."

The American embassy posted that they "are in contact with the Government of Ethiopia and Ethiopian Airlines to offer all possible assistance" and that they "are working to determine" the identities of its nationals.

María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the UN General Assembly said her "heartfelt thoughts are with friends and families of those affected."

"This is a popular route for many fighting for the good of Africa," she went on.

The foreign ministries of Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Somaliland have all also extended their condolences.

Ethiopian Airlines was deemed the best African carrier last year by UK-based air travel consultancy Skytrax.

It reported carrying more than 10.6 million passengers in its 2017/2018 fiscal year, a 21% increase on the previous year and has a good safety ranking, scoring 6/7, according to Airlines Ratings.

The last major accident involving Ethiopian Airlines was in 2010 when a plane travelling from Beirut in Lebanon to Addis Ababa crashed in the Mediterranean Sea killing all 90 people aboard.

Four years earlier, an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed after being hijacked resulting in the death of 125 out of the 175 people on board.