March 10 (UPI) -- An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 crashed six minutes after taking off from Addis Ababa's airport, killing all 157 aboard, including eight Americans, the airline said Sunday.
Flight ET 302, went down near Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, after departing Bole International Airport in the Ethiopian capital, the airline posted on Twitter.
The plane, with a crew of eight and 149 passengers, was headed to Nairobi, Kenya, when it crashed at 8:44 a.m. local time. The jet had flown into Addis Ababa on Sunday morning from Johannesburg, South Africa, on Flight ET858.
Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam went to the crash site, saying the plane "is now right inside the ground" and there was still smoke at the site.
Afterward, he told reporters that the pilot had reported technical difficulties and asked for clearance to return to Addis Ababa. The unidentified senior Ethiopian Airlines pilot had flown more than 8,000 hours with an "excellent flying record," according to the CEO.
Passengers from more than 30 countries were on the flight.
The Tamarind Group, which owns and operates several restaurants and leisure operations in Africa since 1972, announced on Facebook that CEO Jonathan Seex was aboard the flight. The Swedish citizen from 1999 to 2007 worked at resort companies in Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and North Carolina, according to his LinkedIn page.'
The United Nations reported 19 staff members were on the plane.
The U.S. embassy in Addis Araba posted on Twitter it is in contact with Ethiopia's government and the airlines "to offer all possible assistance."
The Ethiopian government "would like to express its deepest condolences to the families of those that have lost their loved ones," according to a post on Twitter.
The state-owned airline, which was founded in 1945, has 110 aircraft in its fleet, including 28 737's, according to Planespotters. Its four Max 8 planes were delivered in 2018, including the jet that crashed in November.
Another 737 Max 8 crashed soon after takeoff on Oct. 29, 2018, killing all 189 aboard the Indonesian Lion Air jet.
But the crashes were different.
The Lion Air flight had "wild fluctuations in air speed and ... we continued to get data from the plane all the way down to impact," Geoffrey Thomas, the editor in chief of Airline Ratings, told CNN. And Sunday's crash had "no fluctuations" and "transmission ceasing indicates catastrophic failure in air."
Boeing said in a statement a "technical team is prepared to provide technical assistance at the request and under the direction of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board."
The last major accident involving an Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane was a flight in 2010 from Beirut, killing 83 passengers and seven crew.