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Aviation

Ethiopian Airline flight crashes, killing 157

Updated : 2019-03-11 11:31:33

An Ethiopian Airlines passenger jet bound for Nairobi crashed minutes after take-off on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board and raising questions about the safety of the Boeing 737 MAX 8, a new model that also crashed in Indonesia in October.

Sunday's flight left Bole airport in Addis Ababa at 8:38 a.m. (0538 GMT), before losing contact with the control tower just a few minutes later at 8:44 a.m.

"There are no survivors," the airline tweeted alongside a picture of Chief Executive Tewolde GebreMariam holding up a piece of debris inside a large crater at the crash site.

"The pilot mentioned that he had difficulties and that he wanted to return," Tewolde told a news conference.

Passengers from 33 countries were aboard, said Tewolde.

Weeping relatives begged for information at airports in Nairobi and Addis Ababa.

"We're just waiting for my mum. We're just hoping she took a different flight or was delayed. She's not picking up her phone," said Wendy Otieno, clutching her phone and weeping.

The aircraft, a 737 MAX 8, is the same model that crashed into the Java Sea shortly after take-off from Jakarta on Oct 29, killing all 189 people on board the Lion Air flight.

The cause of that crash is still under investigation.

The 737 is the world’s best selling modern passenger aircraft and is seen as one of the industry’s most reliable.

A preliminary report into the October crash focused on airline maintenance and training and technical questions about the response of a Boeing anti-stall system to a recently replaced sensor.

Boeing is working on a software patch on the system, while insisting cockpit procedures were already in place to deal safely with problems the Lion Air crew experienced.

Ethiopian's new aircraft had no recorded technical problems and the pilot had an "excellent" flying record, Tewolde said.

“We received the airplane on November 15, 2018. It has flown more than 1,200 hours. It had flown from Johannesburg earlier this morning," he said.

People walk past a part of the wreckage at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
People walk past a part of the wreckage at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam is seen at the flight ET 302 crash site near the town of Bishoftu, Ethiopia March 10, 2019 in this picture obtained from social media. Ethiopian Airlines via REUTERS
Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam is seen at the flight ET 302 crash site near the town of Bishoftu, Ethiopia March 10, 2019 in this picture obtained from social media. Ethiopian Airlines via REUTERS
People walk at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
People walk at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
A passenger safety instruction card is seen at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
A passenger safety instruction card is seen at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
People walk past a part of the wreckage at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
People walk past a part of the wreckage at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
Cigarettes are seen on a cordon line at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
Cigarettes are seen on a cordon line at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
Rescue workers are seen at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Maheder Haileselassie
Rescue workers are seen at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Maheder Haileselassie
A woman reacts as she waits for the updated flight information of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302, where her fiance was onboard at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
A woman reacts as she waits for the updated flight information of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302, where her fiance was onboard at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) workers hang an information notice of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) workers hang an information notice of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) workers hang an information notice of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) workers hang an information notice of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
A flight information board displaying the details of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 is seen at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
A flight information board displaying the details of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 is seen at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
People use their mobile phones near the flight information board displaying the details of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
People use their mobile phones near the flight information board displaying the details of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
People make calls near the flight information board displaying the details of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
People make calls near the flight information board displaying the details of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Cabin serviettes are seen at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
Cabin serviettes are seen at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
Boeing employees are pictured in front of a 737 MAX 8 produced for Southwest Airlines as Boeing celebrates the 10,000th 737 to come off the production line in Renton, Washington, US, March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Redmond/Files
Boeing employees are pictured in front of a 737 MAX 8 produced for Southwest Airlines as Boeing celebrates the 10,000th 737 to come off the production line in Renton, Washington, US, March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Redmond/Files
Members of the search and rescue mission look for dead bodies of passengers at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
Members of the search and rescue mission look for dead bodies of passengers at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
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