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Ethiopian Airlines Flight Crashes


We begin today with some terrible news. An Ethiopian Airlines plane carrying 157 people crashed shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital. The airline says all of the passengers and crew aboard are dead. NPR's Eyder Peralta has been following this story from his base in Nairobi. And he joins us now.

Eyder, good morning. What can you tell us about what happened?

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Good morning, Lulu. So this was a scheduled flight that was supposed to be going from Addis Ababa to Nairobi. And the plane, which was a Boeing 737-8 MAX (ph) took off at 8:38. And by 8:44, so just a few minutes later, the plane had crashed. The CEO of Ethiopian Airlines says that this was a brand new plane. They had just received it in November. And it was being flown by a senior pilot. This morning, it had already flown from Johannesburg to Addis Ababa. And there were no remarks about something that was wrong with it. And the pictures that are coming in from the scene are just remarkable. They show a huge crater, and not much of the plane is left. As you mentioned, no one survived. And among the dead were 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians and eight Americans.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Ethiopian is a big airline, Eyder. What do we know about its safety record?

PERALTA: It's a very safe airline. The last deadly crash was in 2010. It was weather-related. Ethiopian is the pride of Ethiopia. It's state-owned. And it has had incredible growth in the past few years. Right now it's the largest airline on the continent. And just recently, the airport in Addis Ababa overtook Dubai as the No. 1 gateway into sub-Saharan Africa.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And was it weather-related this time? I mean, what was the weather like? Do we know?

PERALTA: It was clear. There's - there - we still don't know what caused this. Of course, the thing that sort of everybody's making connection to is this same type of plane crashed in Indonesia last year. You know, but pilots complained at the time that Boeing had not given them a proper warning that some of the flight controls had changed. And in a statement, Boeing says that they're standing by to provide technical support. And the Ethiopian CEO Tewolde GebreMariam says that this is, of course - this parallels is something they'll be looking at. And they expect that the NTSB will be involved in the investigation.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's NPR's Eyder Peralta in Nairobi. Thank you very much.

PERALTA: Thank you, Lulu. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.