Tue, Mar 12, 2019 - Page 6 News List

UN officials on crashed Ethiopian plane

CANADIAN TOLL:Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the crash, which claimed 18 of his compatriots, was ‘devastating news,’ as he offered consular assistance


Rescuers work at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines flight crash near Bishoftu, Ethiopia, yesterday.

Photo: AP

The UN had at least 19 officials on the Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed on Sunday morning, some of whom were en route to a major environmental conference in Nairobi. No one on board survived.

The World Food Program, the UN Refugee Agency and the Food and Agriculture Organization were among UN agencies reporting personnel losses. The casualty list also included a professor, the chief executive officer of a restaurant company and a Kenyan soccer official.

French President Emmanuel Macron and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres are among those expected to attend the UN Environment Assembly, which was to begin yesterday, along with more than 4,700 heads of state, ministers and executives.

Outcomes from the meeting are to set the global environmental agenda and boost chances of success in the Paris Agreement and 2030 Agenda, according to a UN press release.

The meeting would go on as scheduled, said Laurent Gallissot, Secretary General of One Planet Summit.

The Boeing 737 Max jet crashed shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa, marking the second deadly accident in five months for the new version of the company’s best-selling aircraft. The passenger list included 32 Kenyans and 18 Canadians, the largest two groups by nationality.

There were at least eight Americans on the flight, according to the US Department of State.

The crash comes as “devastating news,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a tweet, and in a later statement said the nation was offering consular assistance and working with Ethiopian authorities.

Macron extended his condolences to the families of those killed, which the airline said included seven French nationals.

Also on the ill-fated flight were a regional assessor to the Italian Ministry of Culture; the wife, son and daughter of a lawmaker from Slovakia; and a residential minister at Georgetown University.

Authorities in China grounded the country’s entire fleet of 737 Max 8 planes, while Cayman Airways, the flag carrier of the Cayman Islands, and Ethiopian Airlines suspended operations of all of their Max 8 aircraft.

The crash is similar to another incident in October last year, when a 737 Max 8 flown by Indonesia’s Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 people on the plane.

However, safety experts warned against quickly drawing too many parallels between the two crashes.

William Waldock, a professor of aviation safety at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in the US, said suspicion will be raised because the same type of plane appeared to crash the same way — a fatal nosedive that left wreckage in tiny pieces.

“Investigators are not big believers in coincidence,” he said.

Waldock said that Boeing would look more closely at the flight-management system and automation on the Max.

However, he said that it is very early and more will be known after investigators find and analyze the Ethiopian plane’s black boxes.

Additional reporting by AP

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