A Nairobi-bound Boeing 737 crashed minutes after an early-morning takeoff from Addis Ababa Sunday, killing all 149 passengers and eight crew on board, Ethiopian Airlines said as world leaders offered condolences to distraught next-of-kin.
People from 35 countries and a UN passport-holder were on board flight ET 302 which ploughed into a field 60 kilometres (37 miles) southeast of Addis Ababa, the carrier’s CEO Tewolde GebreMariam told journalists in the capital, lamenting this “very sad and tragic day.”
“We can only hope that she is not on that flight,” Peter Kimani, who had come to fetch his sister at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), told AFP after news of the disaster reached those waiting in the arrivals hall.
State-owned Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s largest carrier, said the ill-fated Boeing 737-800MAX had taken off at 8:38 am (0538 GMT) from Bole International Airport and “lost contact” six minutes later.
Scheduled to land in Nairobi at 10:25 am (0725 GMT), it came down near the village of Tulu Fara outside Bishoftu.
An AFP reporter said there was a massive crater at the crash site, with belongings and airplane parts scattered widely.
Rescue crews were retrieving human remains from the wreckage.
Ethiopian Airlines confirmed “there are no survivors,” adding it was too early to speculate about the cause of the crash.
Police and troops were on the scene, as well as a crash investigation team from Ethiopia’s civil aviation agency.
In the Kenyan capital, family members, friends, and colleagues of passengers waited for news at the airport.
“I am waiting for my colleague, I just hope for the best,” added Hannah, a Chinese national. (AFP)