A National Day of Mourning has been announced in Ethiopia after flight ET302 went down shortly after leaving Addis Ababa, killing all 149 passengers and 8 crew members aboard.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on March 11, 2019

The cause of the crash is not yet known.

“At this stage, we cannot rule out anything,” Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam told the media.

“We cannot also attribute the cause to anything because we will have to comply with the international regulation to wait for the investigation.”

Victims from around the world on the Ethiopian Airlines flight

The crash occurred at 8:44am local time, just six minutes after the plane had taken off on a flight to Nairobi, Kenya. Data from air traffic monitor site Flightradar 24 showed the plane had unstable vertical speed after takeoff. The pilot sent out a distress call and was cleared to return to Bole International airport at Addis Ababa.

At the crash site, workers removed the victims from the fiery wreckage in black body bags. The plane had left a crater in the ground and remnants of luggage from the flight were strewn around the site.

Among the 157 casualties were people from 35 different nationalities, including 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians, eight Italians, eight Chinese, eight Americans, seven French citizen, seven Britons, six Egyptians, five Germans, four Indians and four Slovakian nationals.

Jonathan Seex, CEO of the Tamarind Group, which has restaurants and leisure sites across Africa, was aboard the flight. “It is with immense shock and grief to inform you of the tragic news that Tamarind CEO, Jonathan Seex, was on the ill-fated Ethiopian Airlines flight,” the company wrote on its Facebook page. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, the Tamarind community and all the others who have suffered unfathomable losses.”

There were also a number of UN workers among the victims. They had been heading to an environmental conference due to begin in Nairobi on Monday.

Another Boeing 737 crash

Some observers have likened the crash to a similar disaster in 2018 which saw a Lion Air jet fall from the sky just moments after taking off from Indonesia. Both accidents involved the Boeing 737 Max 8.

Harro Ranter, founder of the Aviation Safety Network, said this crash differed from the Lion Air disaster as there were no reported defects prior to this flight. The plane involved in this crash was just months old.

The accident ends two fatality free years for African airlines. CNN Aviation Expert Richard Quest said Ethiopian Airlines had a strong safety record before the crash. “It’s one of those airlines that when you have worries about any other, you always say, I’ll take Ethiopian,” he said.