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Ethiopia Airlines Updates: Boeing 737 Crash Kills at Least 150

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An Ethiopian Airlines flight carrying more than 150 people crashed early Sunday shortly after departing from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, en route to Nairobi, Kenya, the airline said, killing everyone onboard.

The plane was identified by its manufacturer, Boeing, as one of its newest models, a 737 Max 8. The cause of the crash was unclear, but a Lion Air flight using the same model of plane went down in Indonesia in October and killed 189 people.

Officials are investigating whether changes to the Max 8’s automatic controls might have sent that flight into an unrecoverable nose-dive. The airline said the 737 had been subjected to a “rigorous” maintenance check in February.

Flight 302 was carrying passengers from at least 35 countries, according to the airline. The dead included 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians, eight each from the United States, China and Italy, and seven each from France and Britain, the airline said. Serbia’s Foreign Ministry said one citizen, a staff worker for the United Nations World Food Program, had died.

The office of Abiy Ahmed, the Ethiopian prime minister, expressed on Twitter “profound sadness at the loss of life,” as did President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya. The Ethiopian House of People’s Representatives declared Monday a national day of mourning. 

The airline said in a statement that 149 passengers and eight crew members were aboard the flight. The United States Embassy in Addis Ababa confirmed that Americans were on board and said it was working with the Ethiopian government and the airline to determine their identities.

The U.S. Embassy is aware of the crash this morning of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302.  We extend our sincerest sympathies to all who are impacted by this tragic event.

The flight on Sunday took off in good weather from Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa at 8:38 a.m. local time and lost contact six minutes later, the airline said. The plane went down near Bishoftu, about 35 miles southeast of Addis Ababa.

Images from the vast crash site revealed a grim tableau. Workers loaded body bags into a truck, while plane fragments and various items from the flight — cigarettes, shoes, napkins with the Ethiopian Airlines logo — were scattered across the field.

Tewolde GebreMariam, the chief executive officer of Ethiopian Airlines, said at a news conference that the pilot had sought and had been given clearance to return to the airport in Addis Ababa after reporting difficulties. 

Mr. GebreMariam said that it was too early to determine a cause or rule anything out, adding that a team from the National Transportation Safety Board in the United States would be arriving shortly to work with civil aviation authorities in Ethiopia and officials from Boeing.

The N.T.S.B. said that it would be sending a four-person team. The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement, “We are in contact with the State Department and plan to join the N.T.S.B. in its assistance with Ethiopian civil aviation authorities to investigate the crash.”

The airline identified the pilot as Yared Getachew, saying he had more than 8,000 cumulative flight hours and describing his performance as “commendable.”

“Ethiopian Airlines is very, very highly regarded; it’s part of the Star Alliance,” Graham Braithwaite, a professor of safety and accident investigation at Cranfield University in Britain, said by phone on Sunday.

Professor Braithwaite was referring to the airline alliance that includes carriers like Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and United, and he described Ethiopian Airways as “one of the best operators in Africa.”

The lead investigation will start in the country where the crash happened, Ethiopia, he said, but other countries will also be involved — Kenya and the United States, independently of Boeing, because the aircraft was made in the United States.

“They’ll want to work quite swiftly,” Professor Braithwaite said. “It’s in nobody’s interest that a failure goes unknown.”

The priority will be to make sure there is no link between the crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia, and other countries and airlines will no doubt be watching closely. The plane is “the most populous aircraft out there,” he added.

Relatives anxiously waited for news, as journalists from around the world descended on Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. At least three buses carrying family members left the airport for a nearby hotel, and emergency responders were shielding them from the press.

“I came to the airport to receive my brother but I have been told there is a problem,” said Agnes Muilu, The Associated Press reported. “I just pray that he is safe or he was not on it.”

The Kenyan transport secretary, James Macharia, said his country was setting up two emergency response centers to assist those who had friends and relatives on the flight.

“The purpose of these centers is to provide the relatives with information as much as we have,” he said. “At the same time to provide them with an environment of privacy.”

There has not been a crash involving Ethiopian Airlines since January 2010, when a Boeing 737 crashed into the Mediterranean Sea shortly after it took off from Beirut, Lebanon. None of the 90 people onboard that flight — 82 passengers and eight crew members — survived.

The latest known accident involving the airline was in January 2015, when a Boeing 737-400 cargo aircraft veered off the runway with flat tires after it landed in Accra, Ghana. None of the three crew members onboard were injured.

The Lion Air Max 8 in Indonesia was a brand-new plane, like Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which was delivered to the African carrier late last year, according to websites that track commercial fleet updates.

Lynette Dray, an aviation expert and senior research associate at University College London, said that the Max model has a more efficient engine than the previous 737 aircraft, but, “It’s not revolutionary new.”

The flight took off in good weather, but the vertical speed of Flight 302 had been unstable after takeoff, fluctuating wildly, according to data published by FlightRadar24 on Twitter.

In the first three minutes of flight, the vertical speed varied from 0 feet per minute to 1,472 to minus 1,920 — unusual during ascent.

“During takeoff, one would expect sustained positive vertical speed indications,” Ian Petchenik, a spokesman for FlightRadar24, said in an email on Sunday.

Crashes involving new planes in good weather are rare. The Lion Air accident also involved a plane that crashed minutes after takeoff and after the crew requested permission to return to the airport.

Investigations by the Indonesian and American aviation authorities have determined that the Lion Air plane’s abrupt nose-dive may have been caused by updated Boeing software that is meant to prevent a stall but that can send the plane into a fatal descent if the altitude and angle information being fed into the computer system is incorrect.

The change in the flight control system, which can override manual motions in the Max model, was not explained to pilots, according to some pilots’ unions. Global alerts were sent to notify pilots flying the Max about how to counter the anti-stall system.

Ethiopia, with about 100 million people, is the second-most populous nation in Africa. After elections in March, the new prime minister has embarked on a series of political reforms, chiefly to officially end two decades of hostilities with neighboring Eritrea, a longtime rival.

The country’s flagship carrier has undergone a major expansion in past years, more than doubling its staff to 11,000 employees in the past decade, with the goal of easing air travel in a part of the world where flying is notoriously complicated. For instance, it added nonstop flights from Newark to Lomé, Togo, a hub for the airline, that then continued on to Addis Ababa.

In West Africa, Ethiopian is the technical and strategic partner for a relatively new airline, Asky, created with investment from the Economic Community of West African States. Asky offers a web of cross-border flights in West and Central Africa and connects with Ethiopian flights to expand its reach across the continent and beyond.

In Africa, Ethiopian has a reputation for having a newer fleet than other airlines, for operating flights that are mostly on time and for having accommodating schedules.

The airline has ordered 30 Boeing 737 Max jets, with the first being delivered last year. It currently has five of the models in its fleet, according to FlightRadar24.

Chinese news websites said that the eight Chinese killed on the flight included tourists and business people. One was Zhou Yuan, a worker for the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation, which sells electronics, communications and security technology for civilian and military needs, the Beijing News reported, citing a press officer for the corporation.

Ethiopia and Kenya have drawn growing numbers of Chinese investors and tourists in recent years. The casualties may also include people from Hong Kong or Taiwan, whom China counts as its own citizens.

The Russian Embassy confirmed the deaths of three citizens and expressed its condolences, as did Canada, which had the second-highest number of victims on the flight. “Terrible news from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this morning,” the foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, wrote on Twitter. “My heartfelt condolences to all those who have lost loved ones.”

Ms. Freeland added that the Canadian government was in close contact with the Ethiopian authorities to gather additional information as quickly as possible.

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Atlanta News & Entertainment

BREAKING: Cobb DA Joyette Holmes Named Prosecutor In Ahmaud Arbery Case

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Georgia’s attorney general will appoint a new prosecutor in the Ahmaud Arbery case.

Attorney General Chris Carr will name Cobb District Attorney Joyette Holmes to take over the case, Belcher learned.

Belcher spoke to Holmes, who did not deny it but instead just referred him to the current special prosecutor, Thomas Durden.

The official announcement is expected later today, Belcher said.

Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was killed by a father and son as he jogged through their Glynn County neighborhood back in February. A video shot on a cellphone showed the confrontation between Arbery and the McMichaels after they confronted him with guns. It took 74 days for the McMichaels to be arrested and charged for Arbery’s death.


Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34

The McMichaels say that they suspected Arbery had broken into a home nearby that is under construction. Authorities said the McMichaels, thinking he was a burglary suspect, pursued him.

Arbery was shot and killed moments later.

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Fauci warns reopening states: ‘You can’t just leap over things’

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Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday that states reopening their economies “can’t just leap over things” that would potentially allow the coronavirus to rebound.

In an interview on NBC’s “TODAY” show, Savannah Guthrie asked Fauci whether the states that are beginning to reopen have the capability to do contact tracing and Fauci responded that while he can’t go through a list state by state, he urged states that don’t have that capability to “go very slowly.”

“You can’t just leap over things and get into a situation where you’re really tempting a rebound,” he said. “That’s the thing I get concerned about. I hope they don’t do that.”

Fauci said states should follow federal guidelines and only begin to reopen if they have a two-week decline in the number of new COVID-19 cases. He cautioned that states must have the capability of identifying, isolating and contact tracing people who test positive because “there will be blips — there’s no doubt.”

“When you pull back, there will be cases,” Fauci said.

As for a vaccine to prevent the coronavirus, Fauci confirmed that he has been working on the Trump administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” project that is seeking to move up the timeline of a drug as quickly as possible.

Asked if he thinks developing hundreds of millions of doses of a vaccine is doable by January, Fauci said, “Yeah, I do, Savannah.”

Fauci said that the U.S. is in the early phases of a trial for a vaccine and once researchers move into the next phase, they’re going to go “as quickly as we possibly can” to determine whether it’s safe. If they think that might be the case before that testing phase is completed, Fauci said the U.S. will start preemptively ramping up production of the vaccine in the hopes that it will work.

“I think that is doable if things fall in the right place,” he said about a January timeline.

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Las Vegas mayor faces backlash over plan to reopen amind coronavirus pandemic

Much of the criticism of Carolyn Goodman stems from a pair of television appearances.

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When Carolyn Goodman began her week, the independent mayor of Las Vegas probably didn’t anticipate that in a matter of days she would become one of the most-talked about public officials in the national conversation surrounding the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Only now she is, and in the eyes of critics, for all the wrong reasons.

It all stemmed from a pair of remarkable TV appearances — first on Tuesday with MSNBC’s Katy Tur and then Wednesday with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, in which she doubled down on her head-scratching plan to reopen the city’s casinos and hotels with no apparent guidelines in place to ensure safety.

On Wednesday, Nevada’s leaders united to send the three-term mayor a pointed message: Not so fast.

“We are clearly not ready to open,” Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) told Cooper Wednesday night, noting the number of coronavirus-related deaths and infections in the state are still climbing. According to the most recent figures kept by the state, Nevada has more than 4,000 reported cases and 187 reported deaths.

“We will rebuild our economy,” Sisolak said. “Las Vegas will continue to thrive, but I can’t do that if I lose more people. We need to protect their health and their well-being.”

Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), whose district includes Las Vegas, echoed Sisolak’s comments, stressing in a separate CNN interview with host Don Lemon that lifting restrictions has to be done “the right way.”

“You can’t open up too soon,” she said, because doing so could “cause death or health problems for individuals and then the economy will tank even worse and it will take us longer and be harder to come back.”

Meanwhile, Nevada’s largest union issued a harsher critique, calling Goodman’s remarks “outrageous.” In a statement, the Culinary Workers Union said it has lost 11 members to the coronavirus.

The rebukes of Goodman came at the end of a yet another whirlwind day for the mayor, who this week injected herself into the ongoing national debate over how to balance mitigating the country’s coronavirus outbreak against rising concerns of economic depression by pushing to reopen Las Vegas’s casinos and hotels under the assumption that “everybody is a carrier” of the new virus.

“Let the businesses open and competition will destroy that business if, in fact, they become evident that they have disease, they’re closed down,” Goodman, 81, told MSNBC’s Tur on Tuesday. “It’s that simple.”

Those comments raised eyebrows, and ridicule, nationally. While other public officials have urged swift reopenings of local business, most have based their argument on the idea that it’s safe to do so. Meanwhile, Goodman is advancing what Tur described as a “modern-day survival of the fittest.”

But rather than retreat into a moment of self-examination or soul-searching amid the outcry, Goodman wasted no time venturing onto a show hosted by one of television’s cleverest interviewers, who has voiced outrage at the acts of officials elsewhere who seem to be rushing to reopen.

Cooper gave her 25 minutes, a supersized segment by TV standards. It was no contest.

She swiftly went off the rails. He alternated between dramatic expressions of exasperation and bewilderment. Over the course of the interview, Goodman, who has been a vocal critic of Nevada’s lockdown order, argued that the responsibility is on businesses, not her, to find a way to open safely and appeared to suggest she had offered her city to be a “control group” for the virus.

“We offered to be a control group,” she said. “I did offer. It was turned down.”

Wednesday’s interview began amicably enough until Cooper started pressing Goodman about whether it is safe for her to be “encouraging hundreds of thousands of people” to flock to casinos where they will smoke, drink, gamble, touch slot machines and breathe recirculated air for hours on end before returning to their home states and countries.

“Doesn’t that sound like a virus petri dish?” Cooper asked.

“No, it sounds like you’re being an alarmist,” Goodman shot back.

This back-and-forth played out throughout the interview: Goodman trying to stay on message against Cooper as he voiced and displayed through facial expressions ever-mounting incredulity. At one point, he even took off his glasses to rub his eyes with both hands.

Any semblance of a conventional interview vanished entirely when Cooper displayed a graphic that showed how the virus could spread from a single carrier in a restaurant in China to multiple diners nearby, prompting Goodman to cut in.

“This isn’t China,” she interjected, “this is Las Vegas, Nevada.”

“Wow, okay, that’s really ignorant,” Cooper said. “That’s a restaurant, and yes it’s in China, but they are human beings, too.”

Not long after the interview, Goodman was trending on social media as many viewers dissected her performance.

“Anderson Cooper may have just ended her career,” tweeted professional poker player Daniel Negreanu. “I couldn’t imagine a public official coming off worse in an interview. There should be a mercy rule.”

Cooper, however, wasn’t the only person put off by Goodman’s remarks Wednesday.

While the mayor doesn’t have jurisdiction over the Las Vegas Strip, the four-mile stretch of hotels and casinos is south of the city limits in unincorporated Clark County, her comments prompted full-throated rebuttals from state leaders Wednesday night, who urged people to continue following social distancing guidelines.

“We need to send a sincere message and a consistent message,” Sisolak, the Nevada governor, told Cooper. “It’s difficult when we get one person that’s leading people astray, and I’m disappointed in that.”

Sisolak and Titus, the Nevada representative, were also taken aback by Goodman’s apparent suggestion that Las Vegas could be a virus “control group.”

“I will not allow the citizens of Nevada, our Nevadans, to be used as a control group, as a placebo, whatever she wants to call it,” Sisolak said.

Later on “CNN Tonight with Don Lemon,” Titus urged Goodman to “listen to the scientists and the health-care specialists and stop talking about my constituents as though they’re guinea pigs in some grand experiment that she’s trying to conduct.”

Goodman also drew ridicule from one other high-profile figure Wednesday: late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, who grew up in Las Vegas.

On Twitter, Kimmel slammed the mayor as “dangerously misguided,” writing, “I am not easily shocked anymore, but the interview she is doing … right now is bonkers.”

“Carolyn Goodman should resign before lunch arrives today,” he wrote in another tweet. “She is an embarrassment to my hometown.”

He went on to revisit Wednesday’s interview in a scathing monologue on his ABC show.

“Mayor Goodman has a lot of thoughts,” he said, “and the one thing those thoughts have in common is that none of them make any sense.”

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