157 Souls Lost. We Need Answers, Boeing!
11 Mar, 2019
Authorities in Ethiopia, China and Indonesia grounded all Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft Monday following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jetliner that killed 157 people, and investigators found the flight recorders from the field where the plane went down.
The new plane crashed shortly after takeoff in clear weather outside Addis Ababa on Sunday, and the airline decided to ground its remaining four 737 Max 8s until further notice as “an extra safety precaution,” spokesman Asrat Begashaw said. Ethiopian Airlines had been using five of the planes and awaiting delivery of 25 more.
As Ethiopia observed a day of mourning, Red Cross workers slowly picked through the widely scattered debris near the blackened crash crater, looking for the remains of those aboard, while heavy machinery dug for larger pieces of the plane.
The plane’s flight data and cockpit voice recorders were found, Ethiopian Airlines said. An airline official, however, said one of the recorders was partially damaged and “we will see what we can retrieve from it.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity for lack of authorization to speak to the media.
Ethiopian authorities are leading the investigation into the crash, assisted by the U.S., Kenya and others.
“These kinds of things take time,” Kenya’s Transport Minister James Macharia told reporters.
Sunday’s crash was strikingly similar to that of a Lion Air jet of the same Boeing model in Indonesian seas last year, killing 189 people. The crash was likely to renew questions about the 737 Max 8, the newest version of Boeing’s popular single-aisle airliner, which was first introduced in 1967 and has become the world’s most common passenger jet.
Safety experts cautioned against drawing too many comparisons between the two crashes until more is known about the disaster. Besides the groundings in China and Indonesia, Caribbean carrier Cayman Airways temporarily grounded their Max 8s.
People from 35 countries died in the crash six minutes after the plane took off from Ethiopia’s capital for Nairobi. Ethiopian Airlines said the senior pilot issued a distress call and was told to return but all contact was lost shortly afterward. The plane plowed into the ground at Hejere near Bishoftu, scattering debris like a shredded book, a battered passport and business cards in multiple languages.
Canada, Ethiopia, the U.S., China, Italy, France, Britain, Egypt, Germany, India and Slovakia all lost four or more citizens.
Leaders of the United Nations, the U.N. refugee agency and the World Food Program said colleagues had been on the plane. The U.N. migration agency estimated that 19 U.N.-affiliated employees were killed.
Both Addis Ababa and Nairobi are major hubs for humanitarian workers, and some had been on their way to a large U.N. environmental conference set to begin Monday in Nairobi. The U.N. flag at the event flew at half-staff.
The plane was delivered to the airline in November. The jet’s last maintenance was on Feb. 4, and it had flown just 1,200 hours.
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