All 157 people from 35 nationalities on board an Ethiopian Airlines B737 MAX 8 flight that crashed shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa have been killed, the airline confirmed Sunday morning.
Flight ET 302, en route to Nairobi, Kenya, lost contact at 8:44 a.m. local time, six minutes after taking off from Bole International Airport in the Ethiopian capital.
Visibility was said to be good, but air traffic monitoring website Flightradar24 reported that the aircraft’s vertical speed was “unstable after take-off”. Flightradar24 says it has limited coverage in the area, but tracked the flight for about 3 minutes after takeoff.
The crash bears a striking resemblance to the Indonesian Lion Air JT610 flight that crashed soon after takeoff from Jakarta in 2018 – killing 189 people.
“They of course are the same [model of 737 MAX 8] planes,” says Ethiopian Airlines CEO, Tewolde GebreMariam, adding that only after an investigation could any firm conclusions be drawn, according to the BBC.
GebreMariam, told reporters at a press conference that the pilot had reported technical difficulties and asked for clearance to return to Addis Ababa.
He was given clearance to turn back, according to GebreMariam, citing the Air Traffic Controllers record.
The pilot was a senior Ethiopian Airlines pilot who had flown more than 8,000 hours. He had an “excellent flying record,” the CEO says.