A man carries a piece of debris on his head at the crash site of a Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines flight near Bishoftu, a town some 60 kilometres southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 10, 2019. A Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines Boeing crashed minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa on March 10, killing all eight crew and 149 passengers on board, including tourists, business travellers, and “at least a dozen” UN staff.Michael TEWELDE / AFP
Agence France-Presse

Two Nigerians, Ambassador Abiodun Bashua, and Prof. Pius Adesanmi, were among the 157 persons who died in yesterday’s air crash involving Ethiopian Airlines’ Boeing737MAX plane that had barely taken off from the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa. Bashua was United Nations and African Union Deputy Joint Special Representative in Darfur, Sudan.

Adesanmi, a writer, graduate of University of Ilorin as well as a literary critic and professor with Carlton University in Canada, was believed to be heading for the African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) committee meeting in Nairobi, Kenya. Adesanmi, was suspected to have flown with a Canadian passport, hence he was officially listed among the Canadians.

The don had been involved in an accident along Oyo-Ogbomosho road last July while returning to Lagos from Ilorin to catch a flight for a meeting in Dakar, Senegal.

Having being rescued, he was taken back to his base in Canada for proper medical treatment.Others onboard were 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians, eight Chinese, eight Italians, eight Americans, both France and United Kingdom have seven apiece, six Egyptians, five Germans while India and Slovakia accounted for three nationals each.

The aircraft, with registration ET-AVJ, lost contact with the radar some six minutes after takeoff en route Nairobi, the Kenyan capital. Besides the149 passengers were the eight crewmembers, who all died.

The airline’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Tewolde GebreMariam, told reporters that the pilot of flight ET 302 had reported technical difficulties and asked for clearance to return to Addis Ababa.

He was given clearance to turn back, according to him, citing records from air traffic controllers.

The late senior pilot had flown more than 8,000 hours. He had an “excellent flying record,” GebreMariam stated.A routine maintenance check did not reveal any problems, the CEO noted, adding that the cause of the crash was yet to be ascertained.

He confirmed that the company owns six other 737 Max 8 aircraft. Asked if the company would be grounding them, the Ethiopian responded in the negative, stating: “We don’t know the cause of the accident.”

The ill-fated airplane had flown into Addis Ababa yesterday morning from Johannesburg on Flight ET858. GebreMariam, after visiting the crash site, said the plane “is now right inside the ground” and it was not possible to tell if it was an emergency landing or a crash.

The global patronage for the aircraft type is high, especially due to its efficient fuel management. Nigerian leading carrier, Air Peace, last September, signed a memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Boeing, to acquire 10 of the planes for its international operations.

The biggest bid ever submitted by an airline in West Africa is to launch the Nigerian firm into the league of major carriers in the world, parading some of the most attractive, efficient and state-of-the-art wide body aircraft globally.

But yesterday’s mishap makes second in less than six months that a brand-new classy facility would crash minutes into a journey. The crashed plane was delivered to the Ethiopian company in November.

The Ethiopian Airlines’ tragedy comes months after a Lion Air flight went down over the Java Sea in late October, killing all 189 people on board.Also yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari condoled with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia and home governments of the deceased nationals over the incident.

In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the president also commiserated with families of the victims.

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