Just after taking off, an Ethiopian Airlines plane carrying more than 150 passengers crashed, killing all on board. Flight ET302 was headed to Nairobi, coming from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
149 passengers and 8 crew members did not survive the crash. The plane crashed at 08:44 local time, 6 minutes after take-off. There were a total of 33 nationalities.
The plane that crashed is one of Boeing's newest models, the 737 Max 8. Last year, a plane of the same model crashed in Indonesia. All 189 on board were killed. As it stands, the cause of the crash is still unknown.
"At this stage, we cannot rule out anything," Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam told reporters at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa.
"We cannot also attribute the cause to anything because we will have to comply with the international regulation to wait for the investigation."
Changes to the Max 8’s automatic controls are being said that they might have sent the plane into an unrecoverable nose-dive. Officials are investigating this, but the airline said that in February, the plane was put under a "rigorous" maintenance check. The plane took off in good weather.
The crash site portrayed a horrific and terrifying story - with workers loading body bags into a truck. Plane fragments and items were strewn across the field - a sign of a gloomy fate.
On board were 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, 9 Ethiopians, 8 Italians, 8 Chinese, 8 Americans, 7 Britons, 7 French, 6 Egyptians, 5 Dutch citizens, 4 Indians and 4 people from Slovakia. There were also 3 Austrians, 3 Swedes, 3 Russians, 2 Moroccans, 2 Spaniards, 2 Poles and 2 Israelis. Then 1 each from Belgium, Indonesia, Somalia, Norway, Serbia, Togo, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda and Yemen.
Ethiopian Airlines has had a commendable safety record. The last crash was in 2010, when one of its planes crashed into in the Mediterranean Sea shortly after leaving Beirut, killing 90 people on board.
It is rare for a new plane in good weather to crash. The New York Times reports that,
"Investigations by Indonesian and American aviation authorities have determined that the Lion Air plane’s abrupt nose‐dive may have been caused by updated Boeing software that is meant to prevent a stall but that can send the plane into a fatal descent if the altitude and angle information being fed into the computer system is incorrect.
The change in the flight control system, which can override manual actions taken in the Max model, was not adequately explained to pilots, American aviation authorities concluded.
Global alerts were sent to notify pilots flying the Max about how to counter the anti‐stall system."
Header image credit - BBC