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Ethiopian Airlines flight to Nairobi crashes with 157 people on board

14 March 2019

"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".

"Ethiopian is Africa's biggest airline and recently the airport in Addis Ababa overtook Dubai as the leading gateway to sub-Saharan Africa", NPR's Eyder Peralta reports.

Weeping relatives begged for information at airports in Nairobi and Addis Ababa.

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That model number does not exist however, and multiple aviation websites later identified the plane as a new 737 MAX 8, the same plane that crashed in Indonesia in October, killing 189. "She's not picking up her phone", said Wendy Otieno, clutching her phone and weeping.

The plane crashed six minutes after departure, plowing into the ground at Hejere near Bishoftu, or Debre Zeit, some 50 kilometers (31 miles) outside Addis Ababa, at 8:44 a.m.

The senior Ethiopian Airlines pilot had flown more than 8,000 hours.

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An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 passenger jet to Nairobi crashed early on Sunday with 149 passengers and eight crew members aboard, the airline said.

Seven British nationals were on board as well as 18 Canadians and eight US citizens.

Swedish flight tracker flightradar24.com said on its Twitter account that: "Additional data from Flightradar24 ADS-B network show that vertical speed was unstable after take off". Ethiopian authorities lead the investigation into the crash, assisted by the U.S., Kenya and others. The Boeing 737 Max 8 was one of 30 meant for the airline, Boeing said in July.

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Its last major crash was in January 2010, when a flight from Beirut went down shortly after take-off. Southwest Airlines flies 31 MAX 8 jets while American Airlines and Air Canada each have 24 in their fleet.

Ethiopian Airlines flight to Nairobi crashes with 157 people on board