Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 with 157 people on board, crashed soon after taking off from Addis Ababa, with no survivors.
The plane was en route to Nairobi, Kenya when it lost contact six minutes after taking off from the Bole International airport in Ethiopian’s capital.
An airline spokesperson told CNN the victims were of 35 different nationalities. There were 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, 9 Ethiopians and 8 Americans among others included in this horrific tragedy.
The CEO Of Ethiopian Airlines, Tewolde GebreMariam, told reporters at a press conference that during the flights last moments, the pilot had reported technical difficulties and asked for clearance to return back to the airport in Addis Ababa.
According to the Air Traffic Controllers record, he received the necessary clearance.
The pilot was a senior Ethiopian Airlines pilot who has flown more than 8,000 hours. “ he had an excellent flying record,” GerbreMariam said.
The CEO visited the crash site on Sunday, and said the plane “is right now inside the ground” and that it was not possible to identify whether it was an attempt at an emergency landing or a crash.
Because the incident is still so new (there was still smoke bellowing from the site) there is still no clear determination of what could of caused it.
“As it is a fresh incident, we have not been able to determine the cause. As I said, it is a brand new airplane with no technical remarks, flown by a senior pilot and there is no cause that we can attribute at this time.”
When asked whether sabotage or terrorism was a possibility, GerbeMariam responded “At this stage we cannot rule out anything.”
“Ethiopian Airlines is a very, very well-run airline,” said CNN anchor Richard Quest, who specializes in aviation. “There is no safety issue on Ethiopian. They’ve made it their business to be the African airline that operates like a western airline.”
The Ethiopian government expressed its “deepest condolences to the families,” the office of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who first broke the news of the crash, said on Twitter.
The airline said a passenger information center and hotline “will be available shortly for family or friends of those who may have been on flight.”