Ethiopian Airlines grounds Boeing 737 Max 8 fleet over crash …As authorities begin investigations
BY OUR REPORTERS
Ethiopian Airlines has announced the grounding of its Boeing 737 Max 8 fleet, over yesterday’s crash of its Flight ET302 from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to Nairobi, Kenya, about six minutes after takeoff, in which 149 passengers and eight crew members on board perished.
The Ethiopian and Kenyan authorities have also launched investigations in line with international standards to ascertain possible causes of crash, which has put the global aviation community into a state of mourning.
According to a CNN report, Kenyan Cabinet Secretary of Transport James Macharia and Ethiopian Airlines’ Kenya country manager, Yilma Goshu, held a press conference at the Jomo Kenyatta International airport in Nairobi.
Goshu said that Ethiopian Airlines has grounded its Boeing 737 Max 8 fleet, “as a precautionary safety measure. He however noted that the decision to “suspend the planes from service” did not mean that the incident was related to “defects with (this) specific fleet.”
The two officials also said that the focus now would be on conducting the “investigation in line with international standards” and on “comforting and counselling relatives, friends and family” of passengers on board the flight. So far they managed to contact 25 families, they confirmed.
Goshu also said that relatives of the victims who wished to travel to Addis would be assisted, and the government would provide accommodation and updates to the investigation.
It was gathered that the 157 dead were of 35 different nationalities, including eight Americans and two Nigerians.
The Nigerian victims were identified as a popular Nigerian-born Canadian professor and writer, Pius Adesanmi, and Ambassador Abiodun Bashua, a former Joint Special Representative for the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur, Sudan.
Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, where Adesanmi was a lecturer, said in a statement on its website, “The contributions of Pius Adesnami to Carleton are immeasurable…He was a scholar and teacher of the highest calibre who left a deep imprint on Carleton.”
Other victims include 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians, eight Chinese, eight Italians, eight Americans, and seven people each from France and United Kingdom. There were also six Egyptians, five Germans, four people each from Slovakia and India, three people each from Austria, Russia, Sweden, and two people from Spain, Israel, Morrocco and Poland.
Recall that the aircraft, a Boeing 737 MAX with registration number ET- AVJ, took off at 08.38am local time on Sunday from Addis Ababa and lost contact at 08.44am. Search and rescue operations began soon after, where it was discovered that there were no survivors, a statement by the airline had said.
It was gathered that the weather in the capital was clear when the brand-new Boeing plane, delivered to Ethiopia last year, took off. The Boeing came down near the village of Tulu Fara outside Bishoftu.
The African Union Commission chief, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said he learnt of the crash “with utter shock and immense sadness.”
“Our prayers are with the families of the passengers and the crew as authorities search for survivors. I also express our full solidarity with the governments and people of Ethiopia,” he said on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s leader,President Muhammadu Buhari, has condoled with the families of the victims of the accident both in Nigeria and abroad. In a condolence message to the government and people of Ethiopia, the President however said the high casualty figure was disturbing.