Aviation

Ethiopian Airlines crash leaves 157 dead

Ali Coulton

Ali Coulton

An Ethiopian Airlines flight has crashed killing all 149 passengers and eight crew on board.

The flight was en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi and went down around Bishoftu or Debre Zeit at 8:44am, the airline said on Twitter.

The aircraft, which lost contact with air traffic controllers just six minutes after takeoff, was a Boeing 737-800 MAX, the same model as the Lion Air flight that crashed into the Java Sea last October.

Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said in a statement the plane has no known technical problems before the pilot reported difficulties and requested to turn back.

The flight was carrying citizens from 35 countries including one passenger holding a UN passport.

The ABC reported it was possible the flight was carrying people to attend a major United Nations environmental conference in Nairobi.

DFAT has confirmed there is no information that any Australians were on board.

The Red Cross has joined efforts to scour the area where the plane went down, searching for human remains and pieces of the plane which disintegrated on impact, according to the ABC.

In a statement posted to the airline’s Twitter, Gebremariam said it is too early to speculate the cause of the accident.

“Further investigation will be carried out to find out the cause of the accident in collaboration with all stakeholders including the aircraft manufacturer Boeing, Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority and other international entities,” he said.

“Ethiopian Airlines will provide all the necessary support to the families of the victims.”

The airline said senior captain Yared Getachew, who was piloting the plane, had more than 8000 hours of flying under his belt and a “commendable performance”.

The plane, which was delivered to the airline in mid-November, was the latest version of the 737 family, touted as the best-selling modern passenger plane and one of the most reliable.

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