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Crash That Killed 157 Is 'Highly Suspicious'

Messages of grief are pouring in from around the world
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2019 5:10 PM CDT

(Newser) – Grief flowed in from 35 countries Sunday as rescuers searched through remains in Ethiopia and experts asked how yet another Boeing 737-8 MAX could plunge from the sky—this also killing everyone on board, the New York Times reports. Flight data tweeted by FlightRadar24 shows that Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 was heading for Kenya when it failed to climb at a steady speed, the pilot issued a distress call, and Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa allowed it to return. But the pilot lost connection with air traffic control six minutes after taking off and crashed about 31 miles south of the capital. Weather was good and the plane was brand new. All 157 people on board perished. For more:

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  • Alarm bells: "It's highly suspicious," aviation analyst Mary Schiavo tells CNN. "Here we have a brand-new aircraft that's gone down twice in a year. That rings alarm bells in the aviation industry, because that just doesn't happen." The other recent Boeing 737-8 MAX crash, in the Java Sea in October, also left no survivors.
  • Automated controls: Investigators will want to know whether the 737's automatic flight control system forced the plane into a nosedive, Forbes reports. A preliminary report on the Java Sea crash suggests pilots couldn't figure out how to override the system.
  • 35 countries: Ethiopian Airlines tweets that the victims are from at least 35 countries, including 8 Americans, 18 Canadians, and 32 Kenyans. The airline also says senior Captain Yared Getachew had "more than 8,000" flight hours "with a commendable performance."
  • Aid workers: Stunned leaders at international aid agencies say their co-workers were on the plane, the AP reports; the UN refugee agency alone confirmed 19. The flight was known as the "UN shuttle" for transporting aid workers back and forth from Nairobi to Addis Ababa, per the Times. Many were going to the weeklong United Nations Environment Assembly starting Monday in Nairobi.
  • Quiet memory: Condolences and confirmations of lost loved ones are appearing on social media, CNN reports. Among them is Slovakian lawmaker Anton Hrnko posting on Facebook the loss of his wife, son, and daughter. "If you had known them, please think of them in quiet memory," he writes.
  • Addis Ababa: Red Cross workers are scouring the smoky crash site as people approach the Addis Ababa airport in tears and others try reaching loved ones by phone, per the AP. "Where are you, my son?" asked a weeping woman as she failed to get through on a cell phone.
(Read more plane crash stories.)

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