An Ethiopian Airlines flight bound for Nairobi, Kenya crashed on Sunday morning killing all 157 people on board.
The Boeing 737 left Bole airport in Addis Ababa at 8.38am local time and lost contact with the airport’s control tower only minutes after takeoff. According to authorities, the crash carved a crater into the ground about 60 kilometres southeast of Addis Ababa in Bishoftu (Debre Zeit).
An Ethiopian Airlines spokesperson told CNN that the flight held 35 different nationalities. Thirty-two Kenyans, eighteen Canadians, nine Ethiopians, eight Italians, seven UK nationals, and eight Chinese nationals were among the victims.
While the aircraft was relatively new, a Lion Air plane of the same model was involved in a crash about five months ago, crashing into the sea near Indonesia with almost 190 on board.
The cause of the Ethiopian Airlines crash is still not clear, but the pilot had requested a return to Addis Ababa due to difficulties. “At this stage, we cannot rule out anything,” Ethiopian Airlines CEO, Tewolde Gebremariam, told reporters at the airport.
“We cannot also attribute the cause to anything because we will have to comply with the international regulation to wait for the investigation.”
A witness told the BBC that an enormous fire was sparked upon impact. “The blast and the fire were so strong that we couldn’t get near it,” he said.
Ethiopia has declared Monday as a day of mourning. More details about the crash likely won’t be known until a full investigation has been completed.