A jetliner carrying 157 people crashed shortly after takeoff from the Ethiopian capital Sunday, killing everyone aboard and carving a crater into the ground, authorities said. At least 35 nationalities were among the dead, including 18 Canadians.
It was not clear what caused the Ethiopian Airlines plane to go down in clear weather. The accident was strikingly similar to last year’s crash of a Lion Air jet that plunged into the Java Sea, killing 189 people. Both crashes involved the Boeing 737 MAX 8, and both happened minutes after the jets became airborne.
The Ethiopian pilot sent out a distress call and was given clearance to return to the airport, the airline’s CEO told reporters.
At the crash site, the impact caused the plane to shatter into small pieces. Personal belongings and aircraft parts were strewn across the freshly churned earth. Bulldozers dug into the crater to pull out buried pieces of the jet.
Red Cross teams and others searched for human remains. In one photo, teams could be seen loading black plastic bags into trucks.
As sunset approached, crews were still searching for the plane’s flight-data recorder, the airline’s chief operating officer said.
18 Canadians killed
The airline said 149 passengers and eight crew members were thought to be on the plane.
Ethiopian Airlines issued a list showing 35 nationalities among the dead, including 32 Kenyans and 18 Canadians.
Among the 18 Canadians killed were a Carleton University professor and a mother-daughter pair from Edmonton.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent condolences via Twitter to the families of those lost in the crash. The government also provided a phone number for Canadians in Ethiopia to call for consular assistance.