Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporter
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has sent his condolences to families of passengers who died in an Ethiopian Airlines crash yesterday morning.
The crash happened at 8.44AM, six minutes after the Boeing 737-8 MAX took off from Addis Ababa.
“I send my condolences and prayers to all the families of those who lost their lives today on the Ethiopian Airlines flight to Nairobi.
“Our thoughts and strength go out to our African brothers and sisters and all those affected by this terrible tragedy,” said President Mnangagwa.
Ethiopian Airlines says it believes 149 passengers and eight crew members were on board the plane that crashed soon after taking off from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, on a flight to Nairobi, Ethiopian media reports revealed yesterday.
Reports said it was not clear what caused the plane crash in clear weather but the pilot sent out a distress call and was given clearance to return to the airport.
“At this stage, we cannot rule out anything. We can’t also attribute the cause to anything because we have to comply with the international regulation to wait for the investigations,” Ethiopian Airlines chief executive officer Mr Tewolde Gebremariam told reporters at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa.
Mr Gebremariam told the news conference that passengers from more than 30 countries were on board the ill-fated plane.
He said they included 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians, eight Italians, eight Chinese, eight Americans, seven Britons, seven French citizens, six Egyptians, five Dutch citizens, four Indians and four pople from Slovakia.
Slovak MP Anton Hrnko later confirmed via Facebook that his wife and two children were on the plane.
Three Austrians, three Swedes, three Russians, two Moroccans, two Spaniards, two Poles and two Israelis were also on the flight. There was also one passenger each from Belgium, Indonesia, Somalia, Norway, Serbia, Togo, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda and Yemen.
The Boeing 737-8 MAX operated by Ethiopian Airlines was the same model as a Lion Air jet that plunged into the Java Sea in October just minutes after taking off from Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital. That crash killed 189 people.
The Lion Air cockpit data recorder showed that the jet’s airspeed indicator had malfunctioned on its last four flights, though the airline initially said problems with the aircraft had been fixed. — @pamelashumba1