Ethiopian Airlines plane crashes on way to Kenya

Workers service an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane at the Bole International Airport

Workers service an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane at the Bole International Airport

Eight crew and 149 passengers are thought to have been on the Boeing 737-8 MAX plane destined for Nairobi, Kenya, when it crashed six minutes after departing Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. At least 35 nationalities were among the dead.

It also mentioned the Indonesia Lion Air flight, which crashed after takeoff from Jakarta in October, killing all 189 people on board. A preliminary report issued in November, before the cockpit voice recorder was recovered, focused on airline maintenance and training and the response of a Boeing anti-stall system to a recently replaced sensor, but did not give a reason for the crash.

One witness told AFP the plane was on fire before crashing, and swerving erratically.

Rescue crews were retrieving human remains from the wreckage.

Ethiopian Airlines said it was organising search operations and setting up a passenger information centre. "He was given clearance to return to Addis (Ababa)", Gebremariam said.

Agnes Muilu said he came to pick up his brother.

Relatives were frustrated by the lack of word on loved ones. "They are in shock like we are. It is all over the news that the plane crashed", said Edwin Ong'undi, who was waiting for his sister.

"We have no confirmed information about survivors or any possible casualties".

The 737 is the best-selling airliner in history, and the Max, the newest version of it with more fuel-efficient engines, is a central part of Boeing's strategy to compete with European rival Airbus. The notice reminded pilots of the procedure for handling such a situation.

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The fleet will continue flying since the cause of the crash is not clear, the CEO said.

"Ethiopian Airlines is a very, very well-run airline", said CNN anchor Richard Quest, who specializes in aviation.

The airline published a photo showing its CEO standing in the wreckage.

Ethiopian's new aircraft had no recorded technical problems and the pilot had an "excellent" flying record, Tewolde said.

The airline is recognized by industry experts as one of the best on the continent.

"The blast and the fire were so strong that we couldn't get near it", he said.

China state TV said there were eight Chinese citizens on the flight. The carrier had been using five of the planes and awaiting delivery of 25 more.

Flight ET 302, registration number ET-AVJ, crashed near the town of Bishoftu, 62 kilometers southeast of the capital Addis Ababa, the airline said.

Air traffic monitor Flightradar24 reported that the plane's "vertical speed was unstable after take-off".

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