Family members of the victims involved in a plane crash react at Addis Ababa international airport Sunday, March 10, 2019. An Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after takeoff from Ethiopia’s capital on Sunday morning, killing all 157 people thought to be on board, the airline and state broadcaster said, as anxious families rushed to airports in Addis Ababa and the destination, Nairobi. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

18 Canadians among 157 people killed in Ethiopian Airlines plane crash

It is not yet clear what caused the crash of new Boeing 737-8 MAX plane shortly after takeoff from Bole Airport

Eighteen Canadians are among the victims of an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash that killed all 157 people thought to be on board Sunday, the airline’s CEO and Kenya’s transport minister said.

The victims also include 32 Kenyans, nine Ethiopians, eight people each from China, the United States and Italy, seven each from France and Britain, six from Egypt, five from the Netherlands and four each from India and Slovakia.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called the crash terrible news.

“My heartfelt condolences to all those who have lost loved ones,” she wrote on Twitter. “The Canadian government is in close contact with Ethiopian authorities to gather additional information as quickly as possible.”

It is not yet clear what caused the crash of new Boeing 737-8 MAX plane shortly after takeoff from Bole Airport en route to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. The pilot sent out a distress call and was given clearance to return, the airline’s CEO said.

It is likely the plane was carrying people set to attend a major United Nations environmental conference in Nairobi. The U.N. Environment Assembly is set to begin on Monday in Kenya’s capital, where the plane was headed. U.N. Environment has said more than 4,700 heads of state, ministers, business leaders and others would attend.

The plane was new and had been delivered to the airline in November, records show.

The state-owned Ethiopian Airlines, widely considered the best-managed airline in Africa, calls itself Africa’s largest carrier and has ambitions of becoming the gateway to the continent.

It said 149 passengers and eight crew members were thought to be on the plane that crashed six minutes after departing Addis Ababa on its way to Kenya’s capital. The crash occurred around Bishoftu, or Debre Zeit, some 50 kilometres south of Addis Ababa, at 8:44 a.m.

The airline later published a photo that appeared to show its CEO standing in the wreckage. Little of the plane could be seen in the freshly churned earth, under a blue sky.

“Tewolde Gebremariam, who is at the accident scene now, regrets to confirm that there are no survivors,” the post on social media said. “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 plane had showed unstable vertical speed after takeoff, air traffic monitor Flightradar 24 said in a Twitter post. Visibility was clear.

State broadcaster EBC reported all passengers were dead and that they included 33 nationalities. The Ethiopian prime minister’s office offered its “deepest condolences” to families.

The Addis Ababa-Nairobi route links East Africa’s two largest economic powers and is popular with tourists making their way to safari and other destinations. Sunburned travellers and tour groups crowd the Addis Ababa airport’s waiting areas, along with businessmen from China and elsewhere.

At the airport in Nairobi, worried families gathered.

“I came to the airport to receive my brother but I have been told there is a problem,” Agnes Muilu said. “I just pray that he is safe or he was not on it.”

“Why are they taking us round and round, it is all over the news that the plane crashed,” said Edwin Ong’undi, who had been waiting for his sister. “All we are asking for is information to know about their fate.”

Kenya’s transport minister, James Macharia, said an emergency response had been set up for family and friends.

“My prayers go to all the families and associates of those on board,” Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said.

Records show that the plane was new. The Planespotters civil aviation database shows that the Boeing 737-8 MAX was delivered to Ethiopian Airlines in mid-November.

In a statement, Boeing said it was “deeply saddened” to hear of the crash and that a technical team was ready to provide assistance at the request of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.

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 plane Lion Air flight. 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.

The last deadly crash of an Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane was in 2010, when the plane crashed minutes after takeoff from Beirut killing all 90 people on board.

READ MORE: Wind, heat, weight all factors in fatal B.C. plane crash, investigators say

Sunday’s crash comes as the country’s reformist prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has 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 in Addis Ababa to triple capacity.

Speaking at the inauguration, the prime minister challenged the airline to build a new “Airport City” terminal in Bishoftu — where Sunday’s crash occurred.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cullen announces bid for provincial NDP nomination for Stikine riding

Current MLA Donaldson not seeking re-election

Reserve a gym spot online with the Houston Leisure Facility

The online system is another step to make things easy during the pandemic

Bulk water, sewage project gets council’s approval

Facility to service large-scale users

Four Rivers Co-op opens up applications for the $100,000 Community Support Fund

Registered charity, non-profit organization or community groups eligible to apply

Wood chipping facility being proposed

Council throws support behind Westpoint plan

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

B.C.’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan: Top 5 things you need to know

Jobs training, tax incentives for employers to hire staff and more

March to protect old growth, stop industrial logging coming to B.C. Legislature

Organizers say they want to give frontline communities a bigger say in nearby logging

B.C. releases details of $1.5B economic recovery plan, $660M in business tax incentives

Economic plan includes support for employers, as well as training for workers

‘Not criminally responsible’ hearing slated for man convicted of Abbotsford school stabbing

Gabriel Klein was found guilty in March of killing Letisha Reimer, 13, in 2016

B.C.’s 1st mental health and addictions minister won’t be seeking re-election

MLA Judy Darcy is the fifth cabinet minister not intending to run in the next election

Vancouver’s shuttered aquarium searching for financial solution amid pandemic

The aquarium needs about $1 million a month to cover its costs

Most Read