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Ethiopian Airlines Boeing crashes killing all 157 on board

AFP  |  Bishoftu 

A Nairobi-bound Boeing crashed minutes after takeoff from Sunday, killing all eight crew and 149 passengers on board, including four Indians, tourists, business travellers, and "at least a dozen" UN staff.

declared a of mourning for Monday amid a global stream of condolences for loved ones, many of whom gathered in tears at (JKIA).

"The House of People's Representatives have declared March 11, 2019, a of mourning for citizens of all that have passed in this tragic accident," Abiy Ahmed's office said on

Identities of the victims from 35 started to emerge as foreign governments and the reacted with shock.

"Deeply saddened by the this morning of the plane crash in Ethiopia, claiming the lives of all on board. My heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all the victims - including our own @UN staff - who perished in this tragedy," tweeted UN

The passengers included "at least a dozen" UN-affiliated staff headed for an annual assembly of the UN Environment Programme, which opens in Monday with some 4,700 heads of state, ministers, business leaders, senior UN officials and representatives, a UN source told AFP.

Some of the UN staff were from the and UN refugee agency (UNHCR), the agencies said.

was among the bereaved.

"It is with deep sorrow that I announce that my dear wife, Blanka, son and daughter Michala, died in the air disaster in this morning," he wrote on

Flight ET 302 ploughed into a field 60 kilometres (37 miles) southeast of on what the airline's Tewolde GebreMariam labelled a "very sad and tragic day".

An eyewitness told AFP the plane came down in flames. "The plane was already on fire when it crashed to the ground. The crash caused a big explosion," Tegegn Dechasa recounted at the site, littered with passenger belongings, human remains, and airplane parts around a massive crater at the point of impact.

"The plane was in flames in its rear side shortly before the crash. The plane was swerving erratically before the crash." 737-800MAX was brand new, delivered to state-owned on November 15, said the carrier, Africa's largest.

The plane is the same type as the Indonesian jet that crashed in October, 13 minutes after takeoff from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board.

said the plane had taken off at 8:38 am (local time) from and "lost contact" six minutes later.

It came down near Tulu Fara village outside the town of The carrier, which changed its logo on to black and white from its trademark green, yellow, and red, said "there are no survivors".

"We can only hope that she is not on that flight," Peter Kimani, who had come to fetch his sister at Nairobi's JKIA, told AFP after of the disaster reached those waiting in the arrivals hall.

Loved ones were later brought to the onsite where they were debriefed and offered counselling. Journalists were not allowed in, but could hear sobbing from inside.

said had the largest number of casualties with 32, followed by with 18, nine, then Italy, China, and the with eight each.

Britain and each had seven people on board, six, and five, according to the later said there were eight French victims though there was no explanation for the discrepency.

Twelve in and 14 in had citizens among the victims.

spoke of "utter shock and immense sadness", while Mahboub Maalim, of the IGAD East African bloc, said the region and the world were in mourning. of and his British counterpart both described the as "devastating". Sympathy messages also came from the governments of Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Britain, Germany, and the

GebreMariam said the plane had flown in from earlier Sunday, spent three hours in Addis and was "despatched with no remark", meaning no problems were flagged.

Asked if the had made a distress call, the said "the mentioned that he had difficulties and he wants to return. He was given clearance" to turn around.

Ethiopian and American investigators will probe the crash, said GebreMariam.

For one family member in there was a happy ending. was waiting for his son who works in and feared the worst when a told him the plane had crashed.

"I was shocked, but shortly after, my son contacted me and told me he is still in Addis and did not board that flight. He is waiting for the second one which has been delayed.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, March 11 2019. 01:15 IST
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