BISHOFTU, March 10 - A Nairobi-bound Boeing 737 crashed six minutes after an early-morning takeoff from Addis Ababa on Sunday, killing all 149 passengers, including four Indians, and eight crew on board, Ethiopian Airlines said as world leaders offered condolences to distraught next-of-kin.
People holding passports from 32 countries and the UN were on board the plane which ploughed into a field just 60 kilometres (37 miles) southeast of Addis Ababa, the carrier�s CEO Tewolde GebreMariam told journalists in the capital, lamenting this �very sad and tragic day.�
The crash came on the eve of a major, annual assembly in Nairobi of the UN Environment Programme, which learnt of the crash with �deep regret� but did not say whether any delegates were on the plane.
�We can only hope that she is not on that flight,� Peter Kimani, who had come to fetch his sister at Nairobi�s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), told AFP shortly after news of the crash reached those waiting in the arrivals hall.
State-owned Ethiopian Airlines, Africa�s largest carrier, said the ill-fated Boeing 737-800 MAX had taken off at 8:38 am (local time) from Bole International Airport and �lost contact� six minutes later.
Scheduled to land in Nairobi at 10:25 am (0725 GMT), it came down instead near the village of Tulu Fara outside Bishoftu.
An AFP reporter said there was a massive crater at the crash site, with belongings and airplane parts scattered widely.
Rescue crews were retrieving human remains from the wreckage. Ethiopian Airlines confirmed �there are no survivors.� Police and troops were on the scene, as well as a crash investigation team from Ethiopia�s civil aviation agency.
In the Kenyan capital, family members, friends, and colleagues of passengers were frantically waiting for news at the airport. �I am waiting for my colleague, I just hope for the best,� added Hannah, a Chinese national.
Ethiopian Airlines said Kenya had the largest number of casualties with 32, followed by Canada with 18, Ethiopia with nine, then Italy, China, and the United States with eight each.
Britain and France each had seven people on board, Egypt six, the Netherlands five and India four.
Four were UN passport-holders.
Eleven countries in Africa, and 13 in Europe had citizens among the victims. � PTI