TRAGEDY

32 Kenyans killed in Ethiopian plane crash

In Summary

- A brand-new Ethio­pian Boeing 737 airliner bound for Nairobi crashed shortly after take-off, killing all 157 on board including 32 Kenyans. 

- The plane also had 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians, eight Chinese, eight Italians, eight Americans, seven Britons, seven French citizens, six Egyptians and five from the Netherlands.

A woman reacts as she waits for the updated flight information of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302, where her fiance was onboard at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019.
A woman reacts as she waits for the updated flight information of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302, where her fiance was onboard at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019.
Image: REUTERS/Baz Ratner

The Government on Sunday dispatched a high-profile team to Ethiopia to help bring home bodies of 32 Kenyans killed in an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash

A brand-new Ethio­pian Boeing 737 airliner bound for Nairobi crashed shortly after take-off, killing all 157 on board including 32 Kenyans. The list included 149 passengers and eight crew members.

The cause of the crash of flight ET302 was not immediately known but the highly experienced pilot had reported trouble.

Apart from Kenyans, there were 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians, eight Chinese, eight Italians, eight Americans, seven Britons, seven French citizens, six Egyptians and five from the Netherlands.

Another four victims had UN passports — four  Indian, three Russian, two Moroccan, two Israelis. The passenger list showed one person each from Belgian, Uganda, Yemen, Sudan, Togo, Mozambique and Norway.

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Mwacharia told journalists at JKIA that the government will ensure all the bodies are identified and turned over to their families.

"It's a very sad moment for us as a country. We will ensure that bodies of all those killed in the crash are bought home and given dignified burials," Macharia said.

People walk at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash.
People walk at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash.
Image: REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Apart from forensic experts and counsellors, the government last night was also planning to send relatives to Addis to help with the identification and transportation of their loved ones. 

The government has also set up a support centre at JKIA and a hotline for those whose family and friends may have been on the flight: (+254) 733666066.

President Uhuru Kenyatta offered prayers for the family members and loved-ones of those on the plane.

"We are saddened by the news of an Ethiopian Airlines passenger aircraft that is reported to have crashed six minutes after takeoff en route to Kenya. My prayers go to all the families and associates of those on board," Kenyatta said on Twitter

Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said the captain of the crashed plane had told controllers at Bole airport that he was having difficulty and wanted to return, and that he had been given clearance.

He also said that the plane had arrived on Sunday morning from South Africa.

“[The] plane had more than three hours of ground time after coming from South Africa, it arrived with no remark and was dispatched with no remark.”

The plane took off at 8.38am (06.38 GMT) from Bole International Airport and lost contact six minutes later near Bishoftu, a town about 60km southeast of Addis Ababa by road, the airline said.

The pilot was a senior Ethiopian Airlines pilot who had flown more than 8,000 hours.

He had an "excellent flying record," the CEO said.

The CEO visited the crash site yesterday and said the plane "is now right inside the ground" and it was not possible to identify whether it was an emergency landing or a crash. He said there was still smoke at the site when he visited.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed also visited the site and his office tweeted, "PM Abiy visited ET 302 accident site this afternoon. He expresses his profound sadness at the loss of life and wishes healing to the friends and families of the bereaved. He provided direction to ensure full and timely investigation and communication of the cause."

"Deputy President William Ruto tweeted "I'm saddened by the news of an incident involving an Ethiopian Airlines flight to Nairobi ... Our thoughts and prayers are with the families whose loved ones were on board.

"Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko said, "Saddened by the news ... My prayers and thoughts are with the families and friends of the 149 passengers and crew on board.


Ethiopian Airline, which is state-owned is considered among best-managed airlines in Africa and calls itself Africa's largest carrier. 

Ethio­pian Airlines is the continent’s largest airline in terms of destinations and passengers served. It has ambitions to become the gateway to Africa.

The airline has over 100 destinations worldwide, including Washington, DC. New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

The airline’s last major accident was in 2010 when an aircraft plunged into the Mediterranean shortly after takeoff from Beirut’s airport killing all 90 people on board.

The US National Transportation Safety Board will send four people to assist in the investigation, an NTSB spokesman said yesterday.

Ethiopian Airline, which is state-owned is considered among best-managed airlines in Africa and calls itself Africa's largest carrier. 

Ethio­pian Airlines is the continent’s largest airline in terms of destinations and passengers served. It has ambitions to become the gateway to Africa.

The airline has over 100 destinations worldwide, including Washington, DC. New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

The airline’s last major accident was in 2010 when an aircraft plunged into the Mediterranean shortly after takeoff from Beirut’s airport killing all 90 people on board.

The US National Transportation Safety Board will send four people to assist in the investigation, an NTSB spokesman said yesterday.