Travellers from at least 35 countries were among the passengers on an Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed en route to Nairobi, killing all 157 people on board.
The Boeing 737-8 MAX plane crashed near Bishoftu, about 50 kilometres south of the Ethiopian capital, just six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa on Sunday.
All 149 passengers and eight crew have been declared dead, as Kenyan Transport Minister James Macharia revealed the startling list of nationalities among the fatalities on Monday morning (Australian time).
Along with 32 Kenyans, the toll included 18 people from Canada, nine from Ethiopia, eight from each China, Italy and the US, seven from each France and the UK, six from Egypt, five from Germany.
Four passengers from India and Slovakia were on board, as well as three from each Austria and Sweden, two from each Israel, Morocco, Poland and Spain and one from Belgium, Djibouti, Indonesia, Ireland, Mozambique, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Somalia, Serbia, Togo, Uganda, Yemen, Nepal and Nigeria.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said no Australians were known to have been among the passengers.
The Office of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed tweeted 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”.
Accident Bulletin no. 2
Issued on march 10, 2019 at 01:46 PM pic.twitter.com/KFKX6h2mxJ
— Ethiopian Airlines (@flyethiopian) March 10, 2019
Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam said at a media conference that the pilot of flight ET 302 “was given clearance” to return back to Addis Ababa after he had reported technical difficulties.
He said the pilot had previously flown more than 8000 hours and had an “excellent flying record”, adding that the jet “had no known technical problems”. The cause of the crash has not yet been determined.
“It is a brand new airplane with no technical remarks, flown by a senior pilot and there is no cause that we can attribute at this time,” Mr GebreMariam said.
The airline issued a earlier statement saying the flight took off at 8.38am but lost contact at 8.44am.
The Boeing 737-8 MAX was the same model aircraft to the plane lost in last year’s Lion Air disaster that claimed the lives of 189 people.
The United Nations confirmed UN staff members were among the dead.
“The Secretary-General was deeply saddened at the tragic loss of lives in the airplane crash today near Addis Ababa. He conveys his heartfelt sympathies and solidarity to the victims’ families and loved ones, including those of United Nations staff members, as well as sincere condolences to the Government and people of Ethiopia,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres.Dujarric said in a statement.
The UN is working with Ethiopian officials to confirm the details of UN staff lost in the crash.
Slovakian National Council member Anton Hrnko announced Sunday on Facebook that his wife and two children were killed in the crash.
“With huge sadness I’m announcing that my beloved wife Blanka, son Martin and daughter Michala died earlier today when the plane crashed…if you had known them, please think of them in a quiet memory,” he posted.
Jonathan Seex, the CEO of pan-African hospitality company Tamarind Group, which owns and operates several restaurants in Africa, was also killed.
“It is with immense shock and grief to inform you of the tragic news that Tamarind CEO, Jonathan Seex, was on the ill-fated Ethiopian Airlines flight,” the Tamarind Group said in a statement.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, the Tamarind community and all the others who have suffered unfathomable losses.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted about the “devastating news” that 18 Canadians who among those killed.
“Our thoughts are with all the victims on Flight ET302, including the Canadians who were on board, and everyone who lost friends, family, or loved ones,” he said.”
Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas paid tribute to the victims of Ethiopian Airlines crash, including the five Germans who died.
The state-owned Ethiopian Airlines calls itself Africa’s largest carrier and has ambitions of becoming the gateway to the continent.
The airline runs regular flights from the city to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, where this plane was travelling to before it crashed.
The plane, which was new, had been delivered to the airline in November.
In October, another Boeing 737-8 MAX plunged into the Java Sea just minutes after taking off from Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, killing all 189 people on board.
The cockpit data recorder showed that the jet’s airspeed indicator had malfunctioned on its last four flights, though Lion Air initially claimed that problems with the aircraft had been fixed.
In 2010, 90 people were killed when an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Beirut to Addis Ababa crashed shortly after take-off into the Mediterranean Sea.
Sunday’s crash comes as Mr Ahmed vowed to open up the airline and other sectors to foreign investment in a major transformation of the state-centred economy.
Ethiopian Airlines has been expanding assertively, recently opening a route to Moscow and in January inaugurating a new passenger terminal at Addis Ababa to triple capacity.