(CNSNews.com) – At least eight Americans are among those killed when an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa.
All 149 passengers and eight crew on the Nairobi-bound flight perished, including passengers of more than 30 nationalities, including 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians, and others from Britain, France, China and Egypt.
Nineteen were United Nations personnel, among then staffers from the World Food Program, the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia, the U.N. Office in Nairobi, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino extended “our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those killed in the tragic crash.”
The U.S. embassies in Addis Ababa and Nairobi were working with the Ethiopian authorities, in coordination with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, to offer all possible assistance, he said.
Contact with the cockpit was lost six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa, according to the airline.
The aircraft was the second Boeing 737 MAX 8 to be involved in a fatal crash in less than five months, after 189 people were killed when a Lion Air domestic service in Indonesia crashed into the sea, also shortly after taking off.
Both aircraft were new – four months old in the case of the Ethiopian plane, and just two months old in case of the earlier crash.
The Boeing Company said in a statement it was “deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a 737 MAX 8 airplane.”
“We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew on board and stand ready to support the Ethiopian Airlines team,” it said. “A Boeing technical team will be travelling to the crash site to provide technical assistance under the direction of the Ethiopia Accident Investigation Bureau and U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.”
Ethiopian Airlines said it was grounding its fleet of Boeing 737 MAX 8s until further notice, as an “extra safety precaution.”
On Sunday, China’s civil aviation authorities ordered Chinese airlines to ground scores of Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft temporarily, noting similarities in the two crashes involving the model.
China Daily reported that the authorities would give the go-ahead to resume use once concerns about the planes’ safety had been addressed.
There were at least eight Chinese victims among the 157 people killed in Ethiopia on Sunday.
The Boeing 737 MAX 8 is a 129 foot, single-aisle plane capable of carrying up to 210 passengers
Press reports say the focus is on a possible malfunctioning anti-stall sensor that would have pushed the nose of the plane down unless the pilots disengaged the automatic response.
In January the company reported it had more than 5,000 orders for the model, with 350 already delivered. U.S. carriers among customers include Alaska, American Airlines and Aviation Capital Group.