The Slatest

Ethiopian Airlines Flight Crashes Shortly After Takeoff, Killing 157

Rescue team collect remains of bodies amid debris at the crash site of Ethiopia Airlines near Bishoftu, a town southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 10, 2019.
Rescue team collect remains of bodies amid debris at the crash site of Ethiopia Airlines near Bishoftu, a town southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 10, 2019.
MICHAEL TEWELDE/Getty Images

An Ethiopian Airlines flight carrying 149 passengers and eight crew members crashed Sunday shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital en route to Nairobi, Kenya. The airline has confirmed there are no survivors. The flight departed Bole airport in Addis Ababa at 8:38 a.m. and had lost contact with the control tower by 8:44 a.m., when it crashed some 30 miles south of the country’s capital.

State-owned Ethiopian Airlines published a photo on social media showing its CEO standing on what appeared to be the wreckage although very little of the plane is actually visible. “The group CEO, Mr Tewolde Gebremariam, who is at the accident scene now regrets to confirm that there are no survivors,” the company wrote. “He expresses his profound sympathy and condolences to the families and loved ones of passengers and crew who lost their lives in this tragic accident.”

It isn’t clear what caused the Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet to crash. The plane was new and had been delivered to the airline in November. Flight tracking website Flighradar24 said on Twitter that the plane had unstable vertical speed after takeoff.

Boeing said in a statement it was “deeply saddened” by the news and assured that “a Boeing technical team is prepared to provide technical assistance at the request and under the direction of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.”

The Boeing 737 is the world’s “best selling modern passenger aircraft and one of the industry’s most reliable,” notes Reuters. But it marks the second time in less than a year that this version of the 737 family of planes was involved in a serious crash. On Oct. 29, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 operated by Lion Air crashed shortly after taking off from Indonesia’s capital of Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board.

The last time Ethiopian Airlines suffered a major crash was in January 2010, when 90 people died after one of its planes crashed shortly after takeoff from Beirut, Lebanon.