All 157 people aboard Ethiopian airlines flight were confirmed dead as Africa’s fastest growing airline witnessed the worst-ever incident in its history.
Prior to the latest deadly incident, an Ethiopian airline flight had also encountered similar catastrophe in 2010, when a jet carrying 90 people plunged into the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Lebanon, leaving all the passengers aboard dead.
The victims include 32 from Kenya, 18 from Canada, nine from Ethiopia, eight each from China, Italy and the United States, seven each from Britain and France, six from Egypt, and five from the Netherlands, the airline said.
They also include four each from India and Slovakia, three each from Austria, Russia and Sweden, two each from Israel, Morocco, Poland and Spain, and one each from Belgium, Djibouti, Indonesia, Ireland, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Norway, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovenia, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Uganda and Yemen.
The incident on Sunday, which involved a Boeing 737-800 MAX, occurred a few minutes after the aircraft took off from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport to Nairobi, Kenya. It crashed around Bishoftu town, some 45 km from the capital Addis Ababa, the airline said.
The aircraft, which was obtained by the Ethiopian airline last November, has only been in service for four months, flying more than 1,200 hours until Sunday’s crash, according to the airline.
Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said that “today is a very sad and tragic day for all of us.”
“At this stage, we cannot determine the cause of the accident,” Gebremariam said.
“It just came this morning from Johannesburg and arrived in Addis Ababa with no remark and it was dispatched with no remark,” said Gebremariam.
“It was a clean airplane. It is a brand-new airplane… there is no problem on technical side,” Gebremariam said. “The routine maintenance check didn’t reveal any problem.”
Kenyan government has formed two emergency centers to counsel those affected by the tragedy, as the East African country records highest number of causalities from the tragic incident.
Kenyan cabinet secretary for transport and infrastructure, James Macharia, said that the centers will offer privacy and information to relatives of crash victims as the government waits for the plane’s manifest from the Ethiopian carrier.
“The purpose of these centers is to provide the relatives, who we call meeters and greeters, with information as much as we have and, at the same time, to provide them with an environment of privacy because until we know what has happened there will be a lot of anxiety,” he told a news conference in Nairobi.
Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Mahboub Maalim, also said that “the whole IGAD region and the world are today mourning.”
“It is always shocking and sad news to hear of such an accident. It’s even more deeply affecting when it occurs in a country within our region and a flight route all familiar to us,” the IGAD executive secretary said. Enditem