An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max-8 has
crashed shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa, killing all on board.
According to the airline, 149 passengers and eight crew members were on
flight ET302 from the Ethiopian capital to Nairobi in Kenya.
Ethiopian Airlines said 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, 8 Americans and 7 British
nationals were among the passengers.
The crash happened at 08:44 local time, six minutes after the plane took
Another jet of the same model was involved in a crash less than five months
ago, when a Lion Air flight crashed into the sea near Indonesia with nearly 190
people on board.
The cause of the disaster is not yet clear. However, the pilot had reported
difficulties and had asked to return to Addis Ababa, Ethiopian Airlines said.
“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.”
Recovery operations were under way
near the crash site around the town of Bishoftu, which is 37 miles south-east
of Addis Ababa.
The plane was delivered to Ethiopian
Airlines on November 15, 2018. It underwent a “rigorous first check
maintenance” on February 4, the airline tweeted.
Tewolde Gebremariam said at news
conference that passengers from more than 30 countries were on board the
He said they included 32 Kenyans, 18
Canadians, 9 Ethiopians, 8 Italians, 8 Chinese, 8 Americans, 7 Britons, 7 French
citizens, 6 Egyptians, 5 Germans, 4 Indians and four people from Slovakia.
Three Austrians, 3 Swedes, 3 Russians, 2 Moroccans, 2
Spaniards, 2 Poles and two Israelis were also on the flight.
There was also one passenger each from Ireland, Nepal, Saudi Arabia,
Djibouti, Belgium, Indonesia, Somalia, Norway, Serbia, Togo, Mozambique,
Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda and Yemen.
One person held a UN passport, Ethiopian Airlines said. The airline believed
some passengers could have been heading to a session of the UN Environment
Assembly which begins in Nairobi on March 11.
A UN source also told AFP that “at least a dozen of the victims were
affiliated with the UN”, and that this may include freelance translators.
World Food Program executive director David Beasley said seven members of agency staff had died in the crash.
London Heathrow airport’s runways have reopened after a fire on a parked Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet.
Arrivals and departures were suspended after the incident at 16:30 BST, a spokesman for the airport said. No passengers were aboard at the time.
Fifty Dreamliners worldwide were grounded in January after malfunctions with the plane’s lithium-ion batteries.
Boeing later modified the jets with new batteries and flights resumed in April.
The Ethiopian Airlines Dreamliner in the Heathrow incident – named the Queen of Sheba – flew from Addis Ababa to Nairobi on the first commercial flight since the grounding.
Pictures of the Heathrow fire showed the Queen of Sheba close to a building and surrounded by fire vehicles. London Fire Brigade said its crews were standing by to assist Heathrow staff.
Fire-retardant foam appeared to have been sprayed at the airliner, but no damage was immediately apparent.
Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Airlines Dreamliner in the Heathrow incident flew from Addis Ababa to Nairobi on the first commercial flight since the grounding
A Heathrow spokesman said:
“Heathrow’s runways are now fully open following an earlier fire on board an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft which the airport’s emergency services attended.
“The aircraft was parked on a remote parking stand. There were no passengers on board and there are no reported injuries at this time.
“The aircraft was parked on a remote parking stand and there were no passengers on board. Arrivals and departures were temporarily suspended while airport fire crews attended to this incident.
“This is a standard procedure if fire crews are occupied with an incident.”
Heathrow reopened shortly before 18:00 BST but is advising passengers to check the status of their flights with the airlines.
Meanwhile, Gatwick airport said it was experiencing minor delays on departing flights as it assisted Heathrow with flights that were diverted.
The battery problems followed production difficulties for the Dreamliner, marketed as a quiet, fuel-efficient aircraft carrying between 201 and 290 passengers on medium-range routes.
It was due to enter passenger service in 2008 but it was not until October 2011 that the first commercial flight was operated by Japan’s All Nippon Airways.
The Dreamliner’s electrical system drives air conditioning and hydraulic functions that are run from compressed air on traditional aircrafts.
British Airways is due to take delivery of the first two of its 24 Dreamliners, and Virgin Atlantic is to get the first of its 16 planes in September 2014.
Boeing shares fell more than 6% on the New York Stock Exchange on news of the fire.
A Boeing spokesman said:
“We’re aware of the event. We have Boeing personnel on the ground at Heathrow and are working to fully understand and address this.”