Seven Britons among 157 killed in Ethiopia plane crash
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A passionate “ocean protectionist”, an environmental agent, and a former probation worker are among the dead after a plane crash in Ethiopia.
Seven Britons are among the dead after an Ethiopian Airlines plane have been killed after it crashed minutes after take-off.
Joanna Toole, who worked for the UN, was the first British victim to be named. Her father Adrian said: “It’s dreadful she won’t be able to carry on her work.
“I don’t think I’ll ever give up expecting her to ring.”
The 36-year-old from Exmouth in Devon was going to Nairobi to attend the UN Environment Assembly. On Twitter she described herself as an “ocean protectionist, lover of yoga and vegan foodie” and said she was “passionate” about the Earth.
She was researching the impact of fishing on the oceans.
Her father said she kept homing pigeons and pet rats and would travel to the remote Faroe Islands in a bid to prevent whaling.
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Manuel Barance, director of Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations fisheries and aquaculture department said he was “profoundly sad and lost for words” over her death.
Joseph Waithaka, 55, was originally from Kenya but lived in Hull for a decade until he moved back to his home country.
His son Ben Kuria, who lives in London, confirmed his father had died in the crash.
He said his father had worked for the Probation service, adding: “He helped so many people in Hull who had found themselves on the wrong side of the law.”
Sarah Auffret was the third British victim to be named in the crash.
She was a polar tourism expert who held joint French-British citizenship. She was a graduate from the University of Plymouth.
She worked for Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) who released a statement saying: “We are shocked and heartbroken to learn that our colleague and dear friend, Sarah Auffret, was on the Ethiopian Airlines flight ET0302 which crashed soon after take-off from Addis Ababa Sunday morning, with no survivors.
“Sarah was on her way to Nairobi to talk about the Cleans Seas project in connection with the UN Environment Assembly this week. Words cannot describe the sorrow and despair we feel. We have lost a true friend and beloved colleague.
“Our hearts and thoughts go to Sarah’s family, friends and colleagues at this time of terrible loss.”
All 157 people aboard an Ethiopian Airlines plane have been killed after it crashed minutes after take-off.
The state-owned carrier has confirmed there were no survivors from Flight ET 302, carrying 149 passengers from 35 countries and eight crew members.
Married father-of-two Michael Ryan was the sole Irish victim on the flight.
He had been based in Rome with the UN’s World Food programme, which distributes rations to people in need. The UN said was working as an engineer at the Kutupalong camp for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
Irish premier Leo Varadkar praised him for his “life-changing work”. He had worked on projects including assessing damage to rural roads in Nepal after landslides.
Other victims included 32 Kenyans and nine Ethiopians, 18 Canadians, eight each from China, the US and Italy, seven from France, six from Egypt and five from Germany.
Slovakian MP Anton Hrnko said on Facebook that his wife and two children were among those killed.
Tamarind Group said its chief executive, Jonathan Seex, from Sweden, was on the flight.
The Norwegian Refugee Council reported two it its colleagues were missing after the crash, and had been expected to travel on that flight.
The Nairobi-bound flight was likely to be have been carrying people heading for a major United Nations environmental conference in the Kenyan capital.
The Boeing 737-8 MAX was on a regular scheduled flight from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa when it came down shortly after take-off near the town of Bishoftu, some 31 miles (50km) to the southeast.
The jet left the airport at 8.38am local time before losing contact with the control tower at 8:44am.
The airline’s chief executive Tewolde GebreMariam said the pilot, who had an “excellent flying record”, reported difficulties and had been cleared to turn back.
The plane “had an unstable vertical speed” after take-off, according to the flight tracking website Flightradar24.
Since the crash, at least one airline has taken the decision to suspend using the Boeing 737 Max 8, until more information is available.
Cayman Airways said: “”While the cause of this sad loss is undetermined at this time, we stand by our commitment to putting the safety of our passengers and crew first by maintaining complete and undoubtable safe operations, and as such, we have taken the decision to suspend operations of both our new Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, effective from Monday March 11, 2019, until more information is received.”
In a video message posted on Twitter, British ambassador to Ethiopia and Djibouti Alastair McPhail said he and his team have been working hard in response to the “tragic crash”, and are in “close contact with the Ethiopian authorities”.
“Ethiopian Airlines have confirmed that there were seven British nationals among the dead, and my consular staff are working hard to establish the details,” he said.
“My condolences go out to the families and friends of those involved.”
The aircraft was just a few months old, having taken its first flight at the end of October. Its last maintenance was on 4 February and it had flown just 1,200 hours.
It was one of 30 being delivered to the airline by Boeing.
It is the same type as the Lion Air plane which crashed into the sea off Indonesia last year killing all 189 on board.
In the wake of that disaster, Boeing issued a warning to airlines using its 737 MAX planes after a sensor failure was identified as a potential cause of the crash.
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Ethiopian Airlines said in a statement that it “deeply regrets the fatal accident” and later published a photo of the chief executive standing at the crash site.
“He expresses his profound sympathy and condolences to the families and loved ones of passengers and crew who lost their lives in this tragic accident,” the company said in a social media post.
The airline, which changed its Twitter account cover photo to black following the disaster, has posted emergency numbers to call.
Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed has visited the crash site and expressed “his profound sadness at the loss of life and wishes healing to the friends and families of the bereaved,” his office said.
Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta said: “My prayers go to all the families and associates of those on board.”
PM Abiy Ahmed visited ET 302 accident site this afternoon. He expresses his profound sadness at the loss of life and wishes healing to the friends and families of the bereaved. He provided direction to ensure full and timely investigation and communication of the cause.
— Office of the Prime Minister – Ethiopia (@PMEthiopia) March 10, 2019
Boeing said it was “deeply saddened” at the tragedy.
It said in a statement: “We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew on board and stand ready to support the Ethiopian Airlines team.
A Boeing technical team will be travelling to the crash site to provide technical assistance under the direction of the Ethiopia Accident Investigation Bureau and US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).”
The NTSB has confirmed it is to send a team to assist the investigation.
Ethiopian Airlines is one of the biggest carriers in Africa by fleet size.
It has said previously it expected to carry 10.6 million passengers last year.
The airline’s last major crash was in January 2010, when a flight from Beirut went down shortly after take-off.