Operated by Ethiopian Airlines, the Boeing 737 MAX 8 was on a routine flight from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to the Kenyan capital. The airline confirmed that there were no survivors.
The airline said 149 passengers and eight crew members were thought to be on the plane. Kenyans, Canadians, Chinese, Americans, Ethiopians, Italians, French, British, Egyptians, Indians, Slovakians and others were among the dead, said the airline’s CEO, Tewolde Gebremariam.
The plane crashed six minutes after departing Addis Ababa on its way to Kenya’s capital, plowing into the ground at Hejere near Bishoftu, or Debre Zeit, some 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Addis Ababa, at 8:44 a.m.
The airline later published a photo showing its CEO standing in the wreckage. Little of the plane could be seen in the freshly churned earth, under a blue sky.
The CEO “expresses his profound sympathy and condolences to the families and loved ones of passengers and crew who lost their lives in this tragic accident,” the post on social media said.
The plane had showed unstable vertical speed after takeoff, air traffic monitor Flightradar 24 said in a Twitter post. Visibility was clear.
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. Spain’s foreign ministry said two Spanish nationals were on the passenger list.
The Ethiopian prime minister’s office was the first to comment on the crash, tweeting that the government “would like to express its 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.”
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.
The Boeing aircraft was reportedly brand new and had been delivered to the airline just four months ago.
The aircraft model has been plagued with problems. In October, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 operated by Lion Air crashed minutes after taking off from Jakarta, Indonesia, killing all 189 passengers and crew.
After the crash, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced it would review Boeing’s previous safety analyses of the aircraft.
Bloomberg reported in November that the plane is prone to making “abrupt dives” due to a faulty flight-monitoring system.
Two pilots unions have accused Boeing of failing to properly explain a safety feature on the 737 MAX 8 aircraft in their manuals, claiming that the oversight may be responsible for the Lion Air crash.
The company issued a safety update in November to pilots flying the 737 MAX 8, warning of a possible fault in a sensor that could send the aircraft into a violent nosedive.
Despite its flaws, the 737 MAX still remains a popular choice for airlines.
An estimated 200 Boeing aircraft currently ferrying passengers around the world are at risk of experiencing similar deadly malfunctions, Elmar Giemulla, a leading German expert in air and traffic law, told RT in November.