An Ethiopian Airlines flight en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, Kenya, lost contact and crashed just six minutes after takeoff Sunday from the Ethiopian capital, killing all 149 passengers and eight crew members on board.
The cause of the crash is not yet known. According to the Associated Press, the new Boeing 737-8 MAX plane had just been delivered to the airline, which services several countries, including many in Africa, in November. It is the same plane model involved in the crash of Lion Air Flight 610 in Indonesia last October, which killed all 189 people on board.
On Sunday morning, around 8:38 a.m. local time, the flight took off from Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa. A few minutes later, the pilot requested to return to the airport, but crashed about 35 miles southeast of the capital, The New York Times reported.
The flight was carrying passengers with 33 nationalities, including 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians, eight Chinese, eight Italians, eight Americans, seven British, seven French, six Egyptians, five Dutch, four with U.N. passports, four Indians, three Russians, two Moroccans, two Israelis, and one each from Belgium, Uganda, Yemen, Sudan, Togo, Mozambique, and Norway, according to the BBC.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expressed his “profound sadness at the loss of life” and wished “healing to the friends and families of the bereaved.” He visited the crash site on Sunday afternoon.
The prime minister’s press secretary, Billene Seyoum Woldeyes, said it had been an “utterly heartbreaking day.”
Other condolences were widely shared on Twitter from around the world.
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said it would send a team to assist in the investigation of the cause of the crash. Boeing also said it had offered to send a team to assist local investigators.
Ethiopian Airlines has set up a passenger information center and continues to provide updates on its social media accounts.