Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 en route to Kenya crashes minutes after take off, all 157 on board killed

The plane crashed six minutes after departing Addis Ababa on its way to Kenya’s capital, plowing into the ground at Hejere, some 31 miles south of Addis Ababa.


                            Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 en route to Kenya crashes minutes after take off, all 157 on board killed

Officials have revealed that seven Britons were among the 157 people killed in a deadly Ethiopian Airlines plane crash which occurred shortly after takeoff on Sunday morning.

Six minutes after departing Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa on Sunday, the Boeing jet crashed and claimed the lives of 149 passengers and eight crew members who were on board, the Evening Standard reports.

Flight ET302 was reportedly carrying passengers from at least 35 counties from Addis Ababa to Nairobi in Kenya, according to James Macharia, Kenya's transport minister. Addressing reporters, he said that among the passengers there were 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, and eight Americans.

Rescue team collects remains of bodies amid debris at the crash site of Ethiopia Airlines near Bishoftu, a town some 60 kilometers southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 10, 2019. (MICHAEL TEWELDE/AFP/Getty Images)
Rescue team collects remains of bodies amid debris at the crash site of Ethiopia Airlines near Bishoftu, a town some 60 kilometers southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 10, 2019. (MICHAEL TEWELDE/AFP/Getty Images)

It was not immediately clear what led to the crash of the Boeing 737 Max-8 plane, which occurred around 31 miles south of the capital at around 8.44 a.m local time. Records show that the plane was brand new and had been delivered to the airline only in November last year.

As the aircraft hit the ground, witnesses said a raging fire surrounded the point of impact. Speaking to the BBC, one witness said, "The blast and the fire were so strong that we couldn't get near it."

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed offered his "deepest condolences" to families as he announced the crash on Twitter Sunday morning. "The office of the PM, on behalf of the government and people of Ethiopia, would like to express its deepest condolences to the families that have lost their loved ones on Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 on a regular scheduled flight to Nairobi, Kenya this morning," the PM's office tweeted.

Kenya Airport Authority (KAA) Managing Director and CEO Jonny Andersen and Kenya's Transport Minister James Macharia (L) give a press conference on Ethiopia airline's crash in Ethiopia, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, on March 10, 2019. (YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
Kenya Airport Authority (KAA) Managing Director and CEO Jonny Andersen and Kenya's Transport Minister James Macharia (L) give a press conference on Ethiopia airline's crash in Ethiopia, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, on March 10, 2019. (YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)

Airline chief Tewolde Gebremariam, who confirmed there were no survivors, also expressed his "profound sympathy and condolences" to loved ones of the passengers and crew.

Following the accident, the Ethiopian Airlines CEO visited the crash site to investigate the scene. The airlines informed in an earlier statement that search and rescue operations were ongoing at the crash area. State broadcaster EBC reported that 33 nationalities were among the victims. The airline’s CEO said those included 32 Kenyans and nine Ethiopians. Authorities said other victims include 18 Canadians; eight each from China, the United States and Italy; seven each from France and Britain; six from Egypt; five from the Netherlands and four each from India and Slovakia.

Meanwhile, Boeing Airplanes tweeted that they were "aware of reports of an airplane accident and is closely monitoring the situation". While Kenyan authorities were yet to receive the passenger manifest, an emergency response had already been set up for family and friends, Macharia said. As many Kenyan nationals prepared for the worst, President Uhuru Kenyatta said, "My prayers go to all the families and associates of those on board." According to flight tracking website FlightRadar24, the plane had "unstable vertical speed" after taking off the ground.

The last horrific crash of an Ethiopian Airlines commercial aircraft occurred in 2010, which claimed the lives on all 90 people on board after crashing just minutes after take-off from Beirut.