AA ADDIS ABABA - All 149 passengers and eight crew on board crashed Ethiopian Airlines are dead, Ethiopia’s state broadcaster on Sunday said.

In a statement issued by the airline, Boeing 737 plane bound for Kenya was on a routine flight from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa when it crashed on Sunday morning near the central town of Bushoftu, 50 kilometers south of the capital.

The communication with the flight ET-302 was lost six minutes after it took off, the statement said.

Speaking at a news conference, Tewolde Gebremariam, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Ethiopian Airlines, said: “A pilot of the plane made a distress call and said he faced difficulty and wanted to return to Addis Ababa and was given clearance.”

Tewolde said the plane crashed shortly after that and the airline’s investigative team witnessed “smoke” ebbing out of the crashed plane when they reached there.

“The last time the aircraft flew was yesterday and it came from Johannesburg, South Africa,” he said.

The CEO said the crashed plane was a “brand new” which was received from the Boeing on Nov 15, 2018.

“The cause has not yet been determined. Investigation will be made in line with international standards,” Tewolde said. Among the victims were 32 Kenyans, 7 Britons, 8 Chinese, 9 Ethiopians, 4 Indians, 18 Canadians and 8 Americans. Four passengers were holding the United Nations passports.

APP adds: Pakistan on Sunday expressed deep grief and sorrow over the Ethiopian aeroplane crash in which 157 passengers and crew had reportedly lost their lives.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal, in a tweet, said that the incident took place in the morning which might have reportedly led to 157 casualties.

He said that the government and the people of Pakistan had expressed heartfelt condolences to the governments and peoples of Kenya and Ethiopia and the affected families on the tragic Ethiopian airplane crash.