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BREAKING NEWS

Ethiopia Airlines crash had 'clear similarity' with Lion Air crash, official says

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Image: One of two black box recorders recovered from the Ethiopian Airlines
One of two black box recorders recovered from the Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX aircraft that crashed near Addis Ababa on March 10, 2019. -
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Bureau d'Enquete et d'Analyses
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Ethiopia Transport Minister Dagmawit Moges said the black box from the Ethiopian Airlines crash thatkilled 157 people last week is in good condition.

Moges told reporters on Sunday evening that data so far shows there is a "clear similarity" between that crash and an earlier one in Indonesia that involved the same type of plane.

Officials said victims hailed from 35 different countries were killed when the Nairobi-bound plane crashed shortly after takeoff.

The United States and other countries grounded Boeing 737 Max 8 planes after they were involved in both the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash and an earlier Lion Air crash in Indonesia.

The U.S.-based Boeing faces the challenge of proving the jets are safe to fly amid suspicions that faulty sensors and software contributed to the two crashes in less than six months.

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Thousands mourned the Ethiopian plane crash victims on Sunday, accompanying 17 empty caskets draped in the national flag through the streets of the capital as some victims' relatives fainted and fell to the ground.

The service came one day after officials began delivering bags of earth to family members of the victims. Because of the lengthy identification process, they likely won't receive remains of loved ones anytime soon.

Family members confirmed they were given a 1 kilogram (2.2 pound) sack of scorched earth taken from the crash site. Many relatives already have gathered at the rural, dusty crash site outside Ethiopia's capital.

Elias Bilew said he had worked with one of the victims, Sintayehu Shafi, for the past eight years.

"He was such a good person," Bilew said. "He doesn't deserve this. He was the pillar for his whole family."

French investigators said Saturday night that they had successfully downloaded the cockpit recorder data and had transferred it to the Ethiopian investigation team without listening to the audio files. Work on the flight data recorder resumed Sunday but no additional details were given.

Experts from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and the plane's manufacturer Boeing are among those involved in the investigation.

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The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has said satellite-based tracking data shows that the movements of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 were similar to those of Lion Air Flight 610, which crashed off Indonesia in October, killing 189 people. Both involved Boeing 737 Max 8 planes.

The planes in both crashes flew with erratic altitude changes that could indicate the pilots struggled to control the aircraft. Shortly after their takeoffs, both crews tried to return to the airports but crashed.

The United States and many other countries have now grounded the Max 8s as the U.S.-based company faces the challenge of proving the jets are safe to fly amid suspicions that faulty sensors and software contributed to the two crashes that killed hundreds in less than six months.