Ethiopia Crash

Members of the Ethiopian community take part in a special prayer for the victims of the Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 crash, at the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church of Canada Saint Mary Cathedral in Toronto.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — An Ethiopian Airlines jet faltered and crashed Sunday shortly after takeoff from the country’s capital, carving a gash in the earth and spreading global grief to 35 countries that had someone among the 157 people who were killed.

There was no immediate indication why the plane went down in clear weather while on a flight to Nairobi, the capital of neighboring Kenya. The crash was strikingly similar to that of a Lion Air jet that plunged into the sea off Indonesia minutes after takeoff last year, killing 189 people. Both accidents involved the Boeing 737 Max 8.

The crash shattered more than two years of relative calm in African skies, where travel had long been chaotic. It also was a serious blow to state-owned Ethiopian Airlines, which has expanded to become the continent’s largest and best-managed carrier and turned Addis Ababa into the gateway to Africa.

“Ethiopian Airlines is one of the safest airlines in the world. At this stage we cannot rule out anything,” CEO Tewolde Gebremariam told reporters. He visited the crash site, standing in the gaping crater flecked with debris.

Black body bags were spread out nearby while Red Cross and other workers looked for remains. As the sun set, the airline’s chief operating officer said the plane’s flight data recorder had not yet been found.

Around the world, families were gripped by grief. At the Addis Ababa airport, a woman called a mobile number in vain. “Where are you, my son?” she said, in tears. Others cried as they approached the terminal.

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