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Ethiopian Airlines plane crashes shortly after takeoff, all 157 on board killed

ADDIS ABABA: An Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after takeoff from the capital Sunday morning killing all 157 thought to be on board, according to statements from the airline and the state broadcaster.

There were no immediate details on what caused the crash of the Boeing 737-8 MAX plane, which was new and had been delivered to the airline in November.

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.

The airline's statement 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 (31 miles) south of Addis Ababa, at 8:44 am.

It was carrying passengers from more than 30 countries, the airline's CEO told journalists.

He said they included 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians, eight Italians, eight Chinese citizens, eight Americans, seven British citizens, seven French citizens, six Egyptians, five Dutch citizens, four Indians, four people from Slovakia, three Austrians, three Swedes, three Russians, two Moroccans, two Spaniards, two Poles and two Israelis.

Belgium, Indonesia, Somalia, Norway, Serbia, Togo, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda and Yemen each had one citizen onboard.

Four of those on board were listed as using United Nations passports and their nationalities were not immediately clear.

Records show that the plane was new.

The last deadly crash of an Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane was in 2010 when the plane crashed minutes after takeoff from Beirut killing all 90 people on board.

Sunday's crash comes as the country's reformist prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has vowed to open up the airline and other sectors to foreign investment in a major transformation of the state-centred economy.

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