1. Ethiopian Airlines plane crash kills all 157 people on board.
An Ethiopian Airlines passenger jet bound for Nairobi has crashed minutes after take-off, killing all 157 people on board and raising questions about the safety of the Boeing 737 MAX 8, a new model that also crashed in Indonesia in October.
Sunday’s flight left Bole airport in Addis Ababa at 8.38am local time on Sunday, before losing contact with the control tower just a few minutes later at 8.44am.
“The pilot mentioned that he had difficulties and that he wanted to return,” Ethiopian Airlines chief executive Tewolde GebreMariam told a news conference.
“There are no survivors,” the airline tweeted alongside a picture of Tewolde holding up a piece of debris inside a large crater at the crash site.
Passengers from 35 countries were aboard.
The dead included Kenyan, Ethiopian, American, Canadian, French, Chinese, Egyptian, Swedish, British, Dutch, Indian, Slovakian, Austrian, Swedish, Russian, Moroccan, Spanish, Polish, and Israeli citizens.
There were no Australians among them.
At least four worked for the United Nations, the airline said, and the UN’s World Food Program director confirmed his organisation had lost staff in the accident.
Weeping relatives begged for information at airports in Nairobi and Addis Ababa.
“We’re just waiting for my mum. We’re just hoping she took a different flight or was delayed. She’s not picking up her phone,” said Wendy Otieno, clutching her phone and weeping.
The aircraft, a 737 MAX 8, is the same model that crashed into the Java Sea shortly after take-off from Jakarta on October 29, killing all 189 people on board the Lion Air flight.
The cause of that crash is still under investigation.
A senior US government official said it was too early to tell if there was any direct connection between the two accidents, but that reviewing the issue would be among the top priorities for investigators.
The 737 is the world’s best selling modern passenger aircraft and is seen as one of the industry’s most reliable.
Ethiopian’s new aircraft had no recorded technical problems and the pilot had an “excellent” flying record, Tewolde said.
“We received the airplane on November 15, 2018. It has flown more than 1200 hours. It had flown from Johannesburg earlier this morning,” he said.
Flight ET 302 crashed near the town of Bishoftu, 62km southeast of the capital Addis Ababa, with 149 passengers and eight crew aboard, the airline said.
The flight had unstable vertical speed after take off, the flight tracking website Flightradar24 tweeted.