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Crashed plane ‘slid directly into the ground’

HEJERE, Ethiopia (AP) — The Latest on Ethiopian Airlines crash (all times local):

3:20 p.m.

A pilot who saw the Ethiopian Airlines crash site minutes after the disaster says the plane appeared to have “slid directly into the ground.”

Capt. Solomon Gizaw was among the first people dispatched to find the crash site, which was discovered by Ethiopia’s air force.

He tells The Associated Press that from above “there was nothing to see. It looked like the earth had swallowed the aircraft. … We were surprised!”

He says it explains why rescue officials quickly sent bulldozers to begin digging out large pieces of the plane. He is the managing director of a private flight service.

Sunday’s crash shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa killed all 157 on board.

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1:25 p.m.

Ethiopian Airlines says it should take five days to identify the remains of the 157 people killed in Sunday’s crash outside Addis Ababa.

Spokesman Asrat Begashaw tells The Associated Press that “it will take five days to clear everything” and the airline would release more details later Tuesday.

A global team of investigators led by Ethiopian authorities is assembling.

The cause of the crash of the new plane on a clear day remains unknown.

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12:05 p.m.

Australia has suspended all flights into or out of the country by Boeing 737 Max aircraft, the type that was involved in Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash.

Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority says no Australian airlines operate the aircraft type, but two foreign airlines — SilkAir and Fiji Airways — fly them to Australia.

It says Singapore-based SilkAir has already suspended operation of its 737 Max aircraft.

The Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 plane crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all 157 people on board. Five months earlier, a similar Indonesian Lion Air jet plunged into the ocean, killing 189.

The Australian civil aviation authority’s director of aviation safety, Shane Carmody, says that because of the two accidents, the temporary suspension of Boeing 737 Max operations is in the best interest of safety.

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11:50 a.m.

A South Korean airline says it will suspend operations of its two Boeing 737 Max 8 planes, the same aircraft involved in the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash that killed 157 people.

An Eastar Jet official said Tuesday that the planes will be replaced by Boeing 737-800 planes from Wednesday on routes to Japan and Thailand. She didn’t want to be named, citing office rules.

She says the airline hasn’t found any problems, but is voluntarily grounding Boeing 737 Max 8s in a response to customer concerns. She says the planes will not be used until the completion of a government safety review on the aircraft.

An official from South Korea’s Transportation Ministry says it has yet to find any problems from safety reviews on Eastar’s planes that started Monday.

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11:15 a.m.

The Mideast budget airline FlyDubai says it will continue to fly Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft after reviewing a recent U.S. regulator statement about the aircraft.

FlyDubai says that “no further action is required at this time” over the aircraft, a workhorse in the Dubai government-owned carrier’s fleet.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said Monday that while others have drawn similarities between the Indonesia and Ethiopia crashes, the agency was not.

The FlyDubai statement says it remains “confident in the airworthiness of our fleet.” It operates 11 Boeing 737 Max-8 jetliners.

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10:15 a.m.

A team of U.S. aviation experts has arrived in Ethiopia to join an investigation into Sunday’s crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jetliner that killed 157 people.

As questions grow about the new Boeing plane involved in the crash, the Federal Aviation Administration said late Monday it is at the crash site outside the capital, Addis Ababa, with representatives from the National Transportation Safety Board.

They join an Ethiopian-led investigation that includes authorities from neighboring Kenya and elsewhere.

The plane crashed six minutes into a flight to Nairobi and a growing number of countries and airlines have grounded the new Boeing 737 Max 8 jetliner as a result.

One witness has told The Associated Press that smoke was coming from the plane’s rear before it crashed.


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