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Ethiopian Airlines crash: Four Indians among 157 dead

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

Agencia EFE Adis Ababa, Ethiopia Mar 10, 2019, 07.24 PM (IST)

All 157 people aboard an Ethiopian Airlines flight on route to Nairobi from Addis Ababa that crashed early Sunday have died, a spokesperson for the airline confirmed.

The spokesperson told Ethiopian state television EBC that people from 33 nationalities were on board flight ET 302, which crashed near the town of Bishoftu, 45 kilometres (27 miles) southeast of the Ethiopian capital.

The airline's CEO, Tewolde Gebre Mariam, told members of the press that 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians, eight Italians, eight Chinese, eight people from the United States, seven from France, seven people from the United Kingdom and six Egyptians were among the dead.

Gebre Mariam added there were also five people from the Netherlands, four Indians, four Slovakians, three Austrians, three Swedes, three Russians, two Moroccans, two Spaniards, two Poles, one Belgian, one Norwegian and four others holding United Nations passports who died travelling on the fatal crash. 

The CEO expressed his condolences to the families of the victims, adding that Ethiopian authorities were in contact with the embassies of the deceased.

The office of the Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, confirmed the crash on social media shortly after the accident tweeting:

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"The Office of the PM, on behalf of the Government and people of Ethiopia, would like to express its deepest condolences to the families of those that have lost their loved ones on Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 on a regularly scheduled flight to Nairobi, Kenya this morning."

The Boeing 737, with 149 passengers and eight crew members aboard, took off at 8:38 am from Bole International Airport and lost contact a few minutes later, the airline said in an earlier statement.

The passenger jet was scheduled to land at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 10:25 am.

The cause of the crash remained unknown, Ethiopian Airlines said, one of Africa's largest air travel companies.

The accident has taken place less than five months after a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed in Indonesia 12 minutes after take-off killing 189 people.

Ethiopian Airlines, which has a good reputation for air safety, operates international flights as well as several destinations within the African continent.

In January 2010, an Ethiopian passenger plane heading for Addis Ababa crashed into the Mediterranean Sea after taking off from Beirut International Airport, killing all 83 passengers and seven crew members on board.

One of the airline's deadliest incidents was in November 1996, when a flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi ran out of fuel and crashed into the Indian Ocean near the Comoros islands after it was hijacked by three men who demanded the pilot take them to Australia, leaving 125 of the 175 people on board dead.