An Ethiopian Airlines flight to Nairobi crashed early on Sunday with 149 passengers and eight crew members aboard, a spokesman for the airline informs. “It is confirmed it happened 8:44 (a.m.),” says the spokesman who did not give his name.
The Ethiopian prime minister’s office offered its “deepest condolences” to the families:
“The group CEO who is at the accident scene right now regrets to confirm that there are no survivors,” the company says in a statement confirming the death toll.
Meanwhile, eight Chinese passengers were on the crashed flight, Chinese state TV reports. CCTV says on a social media site that “eight Chinese citizens were aboard” the Flight ET 302 which crashed near the town of Bishoftu shortly after taking off.
Ethiopia’s state broadcaster says all passengers on crashed Ethiopian Airlines plane are dead.
“There are no survivors on board the flight, which carried passengers from 33 countries,” says state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation, quoting an unidentified source at the airline.
“Data from Flightradar24 ADS-B network show that vertical speed was unstable after take off,” Swedish flight-tracking website flightradar24 says on its Twitter feed.
Ethiopian Airlines has released the emergency hotline numbers:
Airport emergency hotline – (251)11 5 17 87 33;
(251)115 17 47 35;
(251)11 5 17 41 00
For all information necessary – (251)11 5 17 89 45;
(251)11 5 17 89 87;
(251)11 5 17 82 31; (251)11 5 17 85 58
The Airlines says it would send staff to the accident scene to “do everything possible to assist the emergency services.”
The crash occurred around Bishoftu, or Debre Zeit, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of the capital, shortly after taking off at 8:38 a.m. local time from Bole International Airport and “losing contact” six minutes later, says the airline’s statement.
The statement further says: “We hereby confirm that our scheduled flight ET 302 from Addis Ababa to Nairobi was involved in accident today. It is believed that there were 149 passengers and eight crew on board the flight but we are currently confirming the details of the passenger manifest for the flight. Search and rescue operations are in progress and we have no confirmed information about survivors or any possible casualties.”
The Airlines is establishing a passenger information center and telephone number will be available shortly for family or friends of those who may have been on the flight.
Its last major crash was in January 2010, when a flight from Beirut went down shortly after take-off. The Boeing 737-800MAX is the same type of plane as the Indonesian Lion Air jet that crashed last October, 13 minutes after takeoff from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board.
A spokesman for the airline confirms the plane crashed while heading from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. It is not yet clear where the crash occurred. The airline has not issued a statement.
The state-owned Ethiopian Airlines calls itself Africa’s largest carrier and has ambitions of becoming the gateway to the continent. The crash comes as the country’s reformist prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has vowed to open up the airline and other sectors to foreign investment in a major transformation of the state-centered economy.
The Ethiopian Prime Minister’s office issued a statement on Sunday morning saying the Boeing 737 was on a regularly scheduled flight when it crashed. The statement has no further details.
(With inputs from Reuters, AFP, AP)