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Developing: Ethiopian Airlines crash; 32 Kenyans, 8 Americans among 157 dead


All 157 people on board an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi which crashed shortly after take off from Bole International Airport died, the airline confirmed on Sunday via Twitter.

Addressing a press conference in Addis Ababa on Sunday afternoon, the airline CEO Tewolde GebreMariam said an investigation into the cause of the crash would start soon.

Routine checks and maintenance never revealed any faults. It was a brand new aircraft delivered to us in November 2018

“Routine checks and maintenance never revealed any faults. It was a brand new aircraft delivered to us in November 2018”, he said.

He added the plane’s captain had made a distress call requesting to return to the airport and that clearance had been given.

Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed offered condolences to families of the deceased.

“The Office of the PM, on behalf of the Government and people of Ethiopia, would like to express its deepest condolences to the families of those that have lost their loved ones on Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 on regular scheduled flight to Nairobi, Kenya this morning,” the tweet said.

Abiy later visited the crash site near Bishoftu, about 60km southeast of Addis Ababa, his office said in a tweet.

Air traffic control lost contact with the Boeing 737-800MAX six minutes after taking off from Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, according to Ethiopian airlines.

Tewolde GebreMariam said the plane had just flown from Johannesburg, South Africa with no incident on Sunday morning before embarking on the doomed trip to Nairobi.

The 149 passengers and eight crew were of 33 nationalities, the country’s state broadcaster EBC reported on Sunday. 33 were from Kenya, 18 Canadians and 9 Ethiopians according to Tewolde GebreMariam.

There were also 8 Chinese and 7 British nationals on board. 8 Americans, 7 French, 3 Russians, 2 Israelis and a Ugandan were also among 157 killed in the crash.

The Kenya Red Cross announced that it had set up a support desk at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, where the ill-fated plane was supposed to land.

Ethiopian airlines has a good reputation for safety. The last major accident involving an Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane was in 2010, when a Boeing 737-800 exploded after taking off from Lebanon, killing 83 passengers and seven crew.

Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta also offered condolences to victims’ families via Twitter.

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