Eighteen Canadians in deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash

At least eighteen Canadians are among the victims of an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash that killed all 157 people thought to be on board Sunday, the airline's CEO and Kenya's transport minister said.

The victims also include 32 Kenyans, nine Ethiopians, eight people each from China, the United States and Italy, seven each from France and Britain, six from Egypt, five from the Netherlands and four each from India and Slovakia.

It is not yet clear what caused the crash of new Boeing 737-8 MAX plane shortly after takeoff from Bole Airport en route to Kenya's capital, Nairobi. The pilot sent out a distress call and was given clearance to return, the airline's CEO said. 

The plane was new and had been delivered to the airline in November, records show.

The state-owned Ethiopian Airlines, widely considered the best-managed airline in Africa, calls itself Africa's largest carrier and has ambitions of becoming the gateway to the continent.

It said 149 passengers and eight crew members were thought to be on the plane that crashed six minutes after departing Addis Ababa on its way to Kenya's capital. The crash occurred around Bishoftu, or Debre Zeit, some 50 kilometres south of Addis Ababa, Sunday morning.

The airline later published a photo that appeared to show its CEO standing in the wreckage. Little of the plane could be seen in the freshly churned earth, under a blue sky.

"Tewolde Gebremariam, who is at the accident scene now, regrets to confirm that there are no survivors,'' the post on social media said. "He expresses his profound sympathy and condolences to the families and loved ones of passengers and crew who lost their lives in this tragic accident.''

The plane had showed unstable vertical speed after takeoff, air traffic monitor Flightradar 24 said in a Twitter post. Visibility was clear.

State broadcaster EBC reported all passengers were dead and that they included 33 nationalities. The Ethiopian prime minister's office offered its "deepest condolences'' to families. 

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