Ethiopian Airlines flight crashes on its way to Kenya with 149 passengers, 8 crew on board

BREAKING: An Ethiopian Airlines 737 flight to Nairobi crashed, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said, offering his condolences on social media.

The flight had 149 passengers and eight crew members on board. There were no survivors, an airline spokesman has said.

Two  Israelis were killed in the crash. Israel has offered its assistance to the Ethiopian government.

A “ZAKA” delegation is currently leaving for Ethiopia to find bodies of the Israelis.

The victims are of 35 different nationalities, including 32 Kenya, 18 Canada, 9 Ethiopia, 8 China, 8 Italy, 8 USA, 7 France, 7 UK, 6 Egypt, 5 Germany, 4 India, 4 Slovakia, 3 Austria, 3 Russia, 3 Sweden, 2 Spain, 2 Israel, 2 Morocco, 2 Poland.

PM Abiy offered his “deepest condolences to the families”.

“The Office of the PM, on behalf of the Government and people of Ethiopia, would like to express it’s deepest condolences to the families of those that have lost their loved ones on Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 on regular scheduled flight to Nairobi, Kenya this morning”, PM Abiy tweeted.

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The plane heading to Nairobi left Ethiopia earlier this morning but came down within six minutes.

The crash is believed to have happened near Bishoftu, Ethiopia, 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of the capital.

‘The blast and the fire were so strong that we couldn’t get near it. Everything is burnt down,’  a witness said.

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A spokesman for the airline confirmed the plane had crashed while heading from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. It was due to land at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at around 10.25am.

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The state-owned Ethiopian Airlines calls itself Africa’s largest carrier and has ambitions of becoming the gateway to the continent.

The plane, a 737 MAX 8, is believed to be a new addition to the EA fleet having been delivered in July last year – and is the same model as the Lion Air plane which crashed in Indonesia in October.

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Boeing issued a safety warning last November about its new 737 Max jets which could have a fault that causes them to nose-dive. The MAX-8 planes were launched in 2016 and are used by major airlines all around the world.

While it remains unclear what happened onboard, there was an urgent investigation called in Indonesia in November 2018 – calling for all MAX jets to be inspected after the crash.

Boeing said it is ‘monitoring’ developments in Ethiopia.