An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 passenger jet to Nairobi that crashed, killing 149 passengers and eight crew, was the same model that crashed during a Lion Air flight in Indonesia in October.
Sunday’s flight left Bole airport in Addis Ababa at 8.38am on Sunday before losing contact with the control tower just a few minutes later at 8.44am.
Passengers from 33 countries were aboard. The dead included Kenyan, Ethiopian, American, Canadian, French, Chinese, Egyptian, Swedish, British and Dutch citizens.
At Nairobi airport, many relatives of passengers were left waiting at the gate for hours, with no information from airport authorities. Some learned of the crash from journalists.
Flight ET 302 crashed near the town of Bishoftu, 62 kilometres southeast of the capital Addis Ababa, the airline said. The pilot mentioned that he had difficulties and that he wanted to return. He was given the clearance to return back. The flight had unstable vertical speed after take off, said flight tracking website Flightradar24 on its Twitter feed.
The aircraft had shattered into many pieces and was severely burnt.
It’s not clear what caused the crash. Boeing sent condolences to the families and said it was ready to help investigate.
“A Boeing technical team is prepared to provide technical assistance at the request and under the direction of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board,” the company said in a statement.
This is the second recent crash of the relatively new 737 MAX 8, the latest version of Boeing’s workhorse narrowbody jet that first entered service in 2017.