All 157 passengers aboard an Ethiopian Airlines flight taking off from Addis Ababa were killed on Sunday when the plane crashed shortly after takeoff.
Flight ET302 set off from Bole International Airport (ADD) in Ethiopia's capital of Addis Ababa and was en route to Nairobi, Kenya. Roughly six minutes after takeoff at 8:44 a.m. local time (1:44 a.m. EST), air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane.
Although no distress calls were reportedly received from the plane, the pilot did request (and was granted) clearance to return to ADD, citing "technical difficulties" shortly before air traffic controllers lost contact with the flight.
According to various news sources, passengers were of 35 different nationalities including 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians, eight Americans, eight Chinese citizens, eight Italians, and seven U.K. nationals. Among the passengers were the family members of a Solvikian National Council member and the CEO of the Tamarind Restaurant Group.
Upon arriving at the site, Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam told reporters that it was not possible to immediately determine the cause of the accident, nor identify if it was an emergency landing or crash. GebreMariam confirmed that the senior pilot aboard the flight had an "excellent flying record" with more than 8,000 flight hours logged under his belt.
"As it is a fresh incident, we have not been able to determine the cause. As I said, it is a brand new airplane with no technical remarks, flown by a senior pilot and there is no cause that we can attribute at this time," Said GebreMariam in a statement, later adding, "The routine maintenance check didn't reveal any problems."
In a similar incident, a Boeing 737 Max 8 flying under Indonesian Lion Air crashed killing 189 passengers and crew just 13 minutes after takeoff last October. Presently, there is no evidence linking the two incidents together.
Boeing confirmed that it will send a technical team to the crash site of the 737 Max to further investigate. Both the Ethiopian Accident Investigations Bureau and U.S. National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) are said to be overseeing the investigation.