NAIROBI: An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 passenger jet to Nairobi crashed early on Sunday with 149 passengers and eight crew members aboard, the airline said.

Flight ET 302 crashed near the town of Bishoftu, 62 kilometers southeast of the capital Addis Ababa, the airline said, confirming the plane was a Boeing 737-800 MAX, registration number ET-AVJ.

The flight left Bole airport in Addis Ababa at 8.38 am local time, before losing contact with the control tower just a few minutes later at 8.44 am.

“Search and rescue operations are in progress and we have no confirmed information about survivors or any possible casualties,” the airline said in a statement.

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The prime minister’s office sent condolences via Twitter to the families of those lost in the crash, without offering further details.

State-owned Ethiopian is one of the biggest carriers on the continent by fleet size. It said previously that it expected to carry 10.6 million passengers last year.

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Its last major crash was in January 2010, when a flight from Beirut went down shortly after take-off.—Reuters

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