None of the 157 people on board an Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed on Sunday morning en route to Nairobi from Addis Ababa has survived, the airline said.
The aircraft, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 carrying 149 passengers and eight crew members, took off at 08.38am (05:38 GMT) and lost contact with air traffic controllers six minutes later.
It crashed near Bishoftu, southeast of the Ethiopian capital, Ethiopian Airlines said in a statement.
It was not immediately clear what caused the crash of the plane, which was new and had been delivered to the airline in November. The pilot, who had been working for the carrier since 2010, sent out a distress call shortly after take-off and was given clearance to return.
Tewolde Gebremariam, the airline’s CEO, visited the scene of the crash and confirmed no one had survived.
Ethiopian Airlines later published a photo on Twitter showing him standing in the wreckage, lifting what appeared to be a piece of the plane debris at the bottom of a large crater in an empty field. Little of the aircraft could be seen in the freshly-churned soil.
The CEO “expresses his profound sympathy and condolences to the families and loved ones of passengers and crew who lost their lives in this tragic accident,” the post said.
Ethiopian state media said more than 30 nationalities were on board flight ET 302. Tewolde said those included 32 Kenyans and nine Ethiopians.
Authorities said other victims include 18 Canadians; eight each from China, the United States and Italy; seven each from France and Britain; six from Egypt; five from the Netherlands and four each from India and Slovakia. Spain’s foreign ministry said two Spanish nationals were on the passenger list.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office tweeted it “would like to express its deepest condolences to the families of those that have lost their loved ones on Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 on regular scheduled flight to Nairobi, Kenya this morning.”
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta offered prayers for the family members and loved ones of those on the flight.
“We are saddened by the news of an Ethiopian Airlines passenger aircraft that is reported to have crashed 6 minutes after takeoff en route to Kenya. My prayers go to all the families and associates of those on board,” Kenyatta said on Twitter.
Al Jazeera’s Catherine Soi, reporting from Nairobi airport, said an “information and service desk has been set up for the relatives looking for information”.
The Boeing 737-8 MAX is the same type of plane as the Indonesian Lion Air jet that crashed last October, 13 minutes after the takeoff from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board.
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 members.