Ethiopia plane crash: what we know about the disaster so far

Frederick Owens
March 14, 2019

An Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed on Sunday morning while flying from Addis Ababa to Kenyan capital Nairobi, with all the 157 people on board killed.

Under global rules, responsibility for leading the crash investigation lies with Ethiopian authorities, while the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will automatically take part because the Boeing aircraft was designed and built in the United States. The crash was strikingly similar to that of a Lion Air jet that plunged into the sea off Indonesia minutes after takeoff past year, killing 189 people.

Ethiopia and China have grounded fleets of Boeing 737 MAX 8 after the crash. Analysts, however, predicted that Ethiopian Airlines would be the exception on the continent. Personal belongings and aircraft parts were strewn across the freshly churned earth.

Rescue crews were retrieving human remains from the wreckage. In one photo, teams could be seen loading black plastic bags into trucks. Cockpit data indicated that the plane's airspeed indicator had malfunctioned on its previous four flights.

Anxious families gathered at the flight's destination, the airport in Nairobi, the capital of neighboring Kenya.

Relatives were frustrated by the lack of word on loved ones. "They are in shock like we are".

It's unusual for authorities to take the step of grounding planes, and it's up to each country to set standards on which planes can fly and how those planes are maintained, said Todd Curtis, an aviation safety analyst who directs the Airsafe.com Foundation. "All we are asking for is information to know about their fate".

The Max mock-up is the newest version of Boeing's workhorse 737 models, the world's most popular commercial aircraft. The decision was made before US investigators reached the crash site, the Journal said. The notice reminded pilots of the procedure for handling such a situation.

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Ethiopian Airlines said six Egyptians, two Moroccans, one Saudi, one Sudanese and one Yemeni were among the dead. "At this stage we can not rule out anything", CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said.

Kenya lost 32 people, more than any country.

According to Swedish flight-tracking website flightradar24, the passenger jet "had unstable vertical speed" before it crashed. Sunburned travelers and tour groups crowd the Addis Ababa airport's waiting areas, along with businessmen from China, Gulf nations and elsewhere. It has flown more than 1,200 hours. The Lebanese blamed pilot error, which was disputed by the airline.

GebreMariam also confirmed the company owns 6 other 737 Max 8 aircraft which are in service.

A shoe of a passenger is seen at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 10, 2019.

The crash shattered more than two years of relative calm in Africa, where travel had always been chaotic.

Ethiopian officials declared Monday a day of mourning.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed tweeted confirming deaths but did not give a number.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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