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Condolences pour in across world for victims of Ethiopian Airlines plane crash

An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 passenger jet to Nairobi crashed Sunday with 149 passengers and eight crew members aboard, the airline said.

Rescue team members carry bodies in bags at the crash site of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX near Bishoftu, some 60 kilometres southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 10 March 2019. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG/WASHINGTON - Condolences are pouring in from across the world after an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed killing all 157 passengers from at least 35 countries.

The flight left Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa going to Nairobi on Sunday but crashed after losing contact with the control tower shortly after takeoff.

Thirty-two Kenyans, 17 Ethiopians and three Russian nationals are among the dead.

Kenya’s Transport Minister James Macharia briefed the media on Sunday afternoon at the Nairobi airport.

“We can now confirm that there were at least 35 nationalities. I’m saying at least because as of now two are unknown. Among the most affected is Kenya which had about 32 passengers onboard.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa has sent condolences to the families and friends of the deceased.

While Russian President Vladimir Putin committed to supporting the families of those who have been affected by the tragedy.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta offered his prayers to all the families and associates of those on board the plane.

The ill-fated Boeing 737 arrived in Addis Ababa on Sunday morning from Johannesburg.

It’s the same model as the Lion Air Flight that crashed minutes after takeoff at Jakarta in October 2018 killing all 189 people onboard.

Thousands of this aircraft, known as the workhorse of the skies, are on order around the world.

The crashed plane was delivered to Ethiopian Airlines, the biggest carrier in sub-Saharan Africa, last November.

Many of the passengers who embarked at Bole Airport were headed for a United Nations conference, opening in Nairobi on Monday.

Authorities say Kenya has been the most affected country in the deadly Ethiopian plane crash.

Thirty-two Kenyan citizens are among the dead.

Canada is the second most affected country with 18 nationals killed when the Boeing 737 Max crashed shortly after takeoff.

Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam says the pilot of the flight reported technical difficulties and asked for clearance to return to Addis Ababa and was given a green light to turn back.

Gebremariam says the senior Ethiopian Airlines pilot had flown more than 8,000 hours with an excellent flying record.

He says a routine maintenance check didn’t reveal any problems.

At the same, the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will send four people to assist in the fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash, an NTSB spokesperson said on Sunday.

The US Federal Aviation Administration is also monitoring developments concerning the crash, a statement said.

“We are in contact with the State Department and plan to join the NTSB in its assistance with Ethiopian civil aviation authorities to investigate the crash,” an FAA statement said.