Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland

Canada’s foreign minister on Sunday deplored the “terrible news” that 18 Canadian nationals were among the 157 people killed in the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jetliner.

“Terrible news from Addis Ababa this morning,” Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Twitter. “My heartfelt condolences to all those who have lost loved ones.”

She said the Ottawa government was in “close contact” with Ethiopian authorities to gather more information.

The Nairobi-bound Boeing 737 crashed minutes after an early-morning takeoff Sunday from Addis Ababa.

People holding passports from more than 30 countries and the UN were on board, but Canadians, with 18 victims, trailed only the 32 Kenyans who died in the crash.

The plane plowed into a field southeast of Addis Ababa, the airline’s CEO Tewolde GebreMariam told journalists in the Ethiopian capital, lamenting the “very sad and tragic day.”

The crash came on the eve of a major assembly in Nairobi of the UN Environment Program, but that agency did not say whether any delegates were on the plane.

State-owned Ethiopian Airline, Africa’s largest carrier, had taken delivery of the Boeing 737-800 MAX plane only on November 15.

The aircraft was of the same type as a plane that crashed in October shortly after takeoff from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board.

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