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An Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane bound for Kenya has crashed killing all 149 passengers and eight crew members.

An Ethiopian Airlines spokesman confirmed that the Boeing 737 plane had crashed on a routine flight from Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa to Nairobi on Sunday.

Ethiopia’s state broadcaster EBC reported everyone on the plane had died and that passengers included 33 nationalities, including 32 Kenyans and 17 Ethiopians.

The plane took off at 8:38am (0638 GMT) from Bole International Airport and “lost contact” six minutes later near Bishoftu, a town some 37 miles southeast of Addis Ababa.

The airline staff were being sent to the scene of the crash to “do everything possible to assist the emergency services.” It also plans to set up a passenger information centre and a dedicated telephone number for family and friends of people who may have been on board the flight.

A flight information board displaying the details of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 is seen at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi CREDIT: REUTERS

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed tweeted his “deepest condolences to the families of those that have lost their loved ones”.

“My prayers go to all the families and associates of those on board,” Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said.

In an earlier statement, the airline said: “We hereby confirm that our scheduled flight ET 302 from Addis Ababa to Nairobi was involved in an accident today. It is believed that there were 149 passengers and eight crew on board the flight but we are currently confirming the details of the passenger manifest for the flight.”

What do we know about the plane?

Records show that the plane was new. The Planespotters civil aviation database shows that the Boeing 737-8 MAX was delivered to Ethiopian Airlines in mid-November.

The Boeing 737-8 MAX is the same type of plane as the Indonesian Lion Air jet that crashed into the Java Sea last October, 13 minutes after takeoff from Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital killing all 189 people on board.

What do we know about the airline?

The last major accident involving an Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane was a Boeing 737-800 that exploded after taking off from Lebanon in 2010, killing 83 passengers and seven crew.

The state-owned Ethiopian Airlines, widely considered the best-managed airline in Africa, calls itself the Continent’s largest carrier and has ambitions of becoming the gateway to Africa.

It has been expanding assertively, recently opening a route to Moscow and in January inaugurating a new passenger terminal in Addis Ababa to triple capacity.

Speaking at the inauguration, the Prime Minister Ahmed challenged the airline to build a new “Airport City” terminal in Bishoftu – where Sunday’s crash occurred.


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