An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 passenger jet to Nairobi crashed Sunday with 149 passengers and eight crew members aboard, the airline said earlier.
This is reported as the second fatal crash in months involving a Boeing 737 Max-8, no South African was on board, 2 Nigerians, one of the Nigerians was Pius Adesanmi, a Nigerian-born Canadian professor, writer and literary critic, satirist, and columnist. Pius Adesanmi was using his Canadian passport. Recorded was 8 Americans, with the highest loss of 32 Kenyans and 17 Canadians. The following tweet shows the list:
Accident Bulletin no. 3
Issued on March 10, 2019 at 4:59 PM pic.twitter.com/5UOxsbl24f
— Ethiopian Airlines (@flyethiopian) March 10, 2019
The cause of the disaster is not yet clear. However, the pilot had reported difficulties and had asked to return to Addis Ababa, the airline said.
Visibility was said to be good but air traffic monitor Flightradar24 reported that the plane’s “vertical speed was unstable after take-off”.
An eyewitness at the scene told the BBC there was an intense fire as the aircraft hit the ground.
Our reporter at the airport spoke to a family member of one of the Ethiopian passenger who died in the crash, he believes ” this is painful, as authorities are speaking to journalists and haven’t responded to families on the ground. We have lost loved ones, why are they worried about media and not responding to us”. One passenger at the airport is also thanking his lucky stars after he missed the Ethiopian Airlines flight.
“The blast and the fire were so strong that we couldn’t get near it,” he said. “Everything is burnt down.”
First word of the crash came when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expressed his “deepest condolences” on Twitter.
Recovery operations were under way near the crash site around the town of Bishoftu, which is 60km (37 miles) south-east of the capital.
The plane was delivered to Ethiopian Airlines on 15 November last year, records show.
“At this stage, we cannot rule out anything,” Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam told reporters at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa.
“We cannot also attribute the cause to anything because we will have to comply with the international regulation to wait for the investigation.”
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is also monitoring developments concerning the crash, a statement said. “We are in contact with the State Department and plan to join the NTSB in its assistance with Ethiopian civil aviation authorities to investigate the crash,” an FAA statement said.