The crash happened just six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa, according to Ethiopian Airlines' CEO

By Rachel DeSantis
March 10, 2019 10:20 AM
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An Ethiopian Airlines flight en route to Kenya crashed just six minutes after takeoff on Sunday, killing all 157 people onboard, including eight Americans, airline officials said.

CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said at a press conference there were no survivors following the crash, which happened around 8:44 a.m. local time, minutes after the Boeing 737 Max 8 plane departed from the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa for Nairobi.

It crashed near Bishoftu, located about 40 miles southeast of the Ethiopian capital.

“This is a very sad and tragic day for all of us,” Gebremariam said. “We are deeply saddened and we express our sympathies and condolences to the families, friends and relatives of… the passengers.”

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Ethiopian Airlines said it received the plane, described as “brand new,” in November. The flight’s pilot, a Canadian-European man, had been with the company since July 2010 and had more than 8,000 hours under his belt, Gebremariam said.

According to the airline, the flight was carrying 149 passengers and eight crew members from more than 30 different countries, including 32 Kenyans; 18 Canadians; nine Ethiopians; eight each from the U.S., China and Italy; and seven each from Great Britain and France.

“As it is a fresh incident… we have not been able to determine the cause,” Gebremariam said. “As I said, it is a brand-new airplane…flown by senior pilots and there is not cause that we can (determine) at this time.

Gebremariam visited the scene shortly after the crash, as the airline shared a photo to social media of him standing amid the rubble.

“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,” the statement read.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed also visited the scene.

“He expresses his profound sadness at the loss of life and wishes healing to the friends and families of the bereaved. He provided direction to ensure full and timely investigation and communication of the cause,” his office said in a statement on Twitter.

In 2010, 90 people were killed when an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after taking off from Beirut, according to the Associated Press.

A Boeing 737 Max 8 plane, the same model in Sunday’s crash, went down last year after taking off from Jakarta. All 189 people aboard the Lion Air flight were killed.