The airline’s statement said 149 passengers and eight crew members were thought to be on board the Boeing 737 that crashed six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa, on its way to Kenya’s capital.
The crash occurred around Bishoftu, or Debre Zeit, some 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of the capital, shortly after taking off at 8:38 a.m. local time, said the airline’s statement.
While the airline said that “search and rescue operations are in progress and we have no confirmed information about survivors or any possible casualties,” a separate statement by the Ethiopian prime minister’s office offered its “deepest condolences” to families.
There were no immediate details on what caused the crash.
The state-owned Ethiopian Airlines calls itself Africa’s largest carrier and has ambitions of becoming the gateway to the continent. The crash comes as the country’s reformist prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has vowed to open up the airline and other sectors to foreign investment in a major transformation of the state-centered economy.
Ethiopian Airlines flight #ET302 dropped from radar 6 minutes after departure from Addis Ababa
The jet is a brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8 – delivered to the airline just four months ago. pic.twitter.com/o01HDgEI16
— Alex Macheras (@AlexInAir) March 10, 2019
The Office of the PM, on behalf of the Government and people of Ethiopia, would like to express it’s deepest condolences to the families of those that have lost their loved ones on Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 on regular scheduled flight to Nairobi, Kenya this morning.
— Office of the Prime Minister – Ethiopia (@PMEthiopia) March 10, 2019