Addis Ababa. People from at least 35 nations died yesterday, when an Ethiopian Airlines plane flying from Addis Ababa to Nairobi crashed, killing all 157 passengers and crew on board.
Four of the victims held United Nations passports, the airline said.
Kenya had the largest number of casualties with 32, followed by Canada (18), Ethiopia (nine) and Italy, China and the US, each of which lost eight nationals in the crash, CEO Tewolde GebreMariam told reporters in Addis Ababa.
Britain and France each had seven people on board, Egypt six, the Netherlands five, and India four.
The plane was also carrying three Russians, while Morocco and Israel had two each. Uganda, Belgium, Yemen, Sudan, Togo, Mozambique and Norway had one each.
The plane was the second Boeing 737-800MAX to have crashed in five months, killing hundreds of people. A similar aircraft operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air crashed in October 2018, 13 minutes after takeoff from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board.
The plane crashed 35 nautical miles (65 kilometres) northeast of Jakarta over the Java Sea.
The plane took off at 6.21am Jakarta time but shortly after takeoff, the flight crew radioed the controller, requesting a return to the airport.
Like the Ethiopian Airlines plane, Lion Air’s Boeing 737-800MAX was also almost brand new, having flown just 800 hours.
The plane is a new model of the Boeing best-selling 737, which first debuted in 1967. Boeing introduced the 737 MAX family of aircraft in 2011, using quieter engines and more fuel efficiency than previous models as selling points. The accident in Indonesia was the first of its kind for this variant of the Boeing 737.
And yesterday, Ethiopian Airlines reported that the pilot of the Nairobi-bound Boeing 737 that crashed six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa on Sunday, had alerted controllers “he had difficulties” and wanted to turn back the plane carrying 157 people, the head of Ethiopian Airlines said. The pilot “was given clearance” to return to Addis, chief executive officer Tewolde GebreMariam told journalists in the Ethiopian capital when asked whether there had been a distress call.
He also said that the plane had arrived on Sunday morning from South Africa. “[The] plane had more than three hours of ground time after coming from South Africa, it arrived with no remark and was dispatched with no remark.”
Mr Tewolde said smoke was still smouldering at the crash site when he visited.
Meanwhile, US aerospace giant Boeing said Sunday it was “deeply saddened” about the deaths of all 157 people. (Agencies)