Addis Ababa: An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 crashed on Sunday morning en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, killing all 149 passengers and eight crew on board, state media reported as world leaders offered condolences.
“We hereby confirm that our scheduled flight ET 302 from Addis Ababa to Nairobi was involved in accident today,” the airline said in a statement, later confirming a report by Ethiopia’s FANA Broadcasting Corp that there were no survivors.
“It is believed that there were 149 passengers and eight crew on board the flight,” it said.
The airline has not provided information on passengers’ nationalities but there are reports people from 33 countries were on board. The crash came on the eve of a major, annual assembly of the UN Environment Programme opening in Nairobi.
State-owned Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s largest carrier, said the plane had taken off at 8:38 am (0538 GMT) from Bole International Airport and “lost contact” six minutes later near Bishoftu, a town some 60 kilometres (37 miles) southeast of Addis Ababa by road.
The weather in the capital, according to an AFP reporter, was clear when the brand-new Boeing plane, delivered to Ethiopia last year, plane took off.
The Boeing 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.
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 were frantically waiting for news at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
“I am still hoping that all is fine, because I have been waiting for my sister since morning and we have not been told anything,” Peter Kimani told AFP in the arrivals lounge over an hour after the plane was scheduled to land at 10:25am local time.
His sister is a nurse who he said had gone to Congo.
“She travels a lot on missions.”
“We are still expecting our loved one from Addis … we have just received news that there is a plane that has crashed. We can only hope that she is not on that flight.”