Ethiopian Airlines plane with 157 people on board crashes minutes after take-off

An Ethiopian Airlines flight with 157 people thought to be on board has crashed shortly after takeoff from Ethiopia’s capital headed to Nairobi, the airline said.

There were no immediate details on what caused the crash.

The state-owned Ethiopian Airlines, widely considered the best-managed airline in Africa, calls itself Africa’s largest carrier and has ambitions of becoming the gateway to the continent.

The airline’s statement said 149 passengers and eight crew members were thought to be on the Boeing 737 that crashed six minutes after departing Addis Ababa on its way to Kenya’s capital.

A plane belonging to Ethiopia Airlines has crashed near the capital of Addis Ababa. Source: AAP

The crash occurred around Bishoftu, or Debre Zeit, some 50 kilometres south of the capital, shortly after taking off at 8:38 am, the airline said.

By 8.44am, the plane had lost contact.

The number of deaths has not yet been confirmed, however the Office of the Prime Minister has offered condolences to the families of those who lost loved ones in the crash.

“The office of the PM, on behalf of government and people of Ethiopia, would like to express it’s deepest condolences to the families that have lost their loved ones on Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 on regular scheduled flight to Nairobi, Kenya this morning,” the office said on Twitter.

The airline statement said “search and rescue operations are in progress and we have no confirmed information about survivors or any possible casualties.”

Swedish flight-tracking website Flightradar24 said the plane “had unstable vertical speed”.

“Data from Flightradar24 ADS-B network show that vertical speed was unstable after take off,” the organisation said on its Twitter feed. 

The last deadly crash of an Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane was in 2010, when the plane crashed minutes after takeoff from Beirut killing all 90 people on board.

A flight tracking map shows the path of the Ethiopian Airlines flight. Source: Flightradar24

According to the Flightradar24, the plane undertook its first flight in October last year.

The model of the jet, a Boeing 737 Max 8, is the same model involved in the Lion Air crash that killed all 189 passengers and crew on October 29 last year.

The doomed flight also crashed just minutes after take-off, on a domestic flight from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang.

– with AAP, Reuters

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