(CNN) — An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 heading to the Kenyan capital Nairobi has crashed near Addis Ababa, the airline said on Sunday morning.
The plane, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 with flight number ET 302, lost contact at 08.44 am local time soon after taking off, at 08:38 am local time, from Bole International Airport in the Ethiopian capital, the airline said in a statement.
The aircraft went down around Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa. The airline believes there were 149 passengers and eight crew members on board.
“At this time search and rescue operations are in progress and we have no confirmed information about survivors or any possible causalities.”
“Ethiopian Airlines staff will be sent to the accident scene and will do everything possible to assist the emergency services,” the airline added.
The airline added that a passenger information center and hotline “will be available shortly for family or friends of those who may have been on flight.”
The Ethiopian government expressed its “deepest condolences to the families of those that have lost their loved ones on Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 on regular scheduled flight to Nairobi, Kenya this morning,” the office of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Twitter.
Ethiopia Airlines has gained the reputation of being one of the best airlines in Africa. It has a good safety record and the newest fleet of planes on the African continent, according to its website.
Boeing has just tweeted: “Boeing is aware of reports of an airplane accident and is closely monitoring the situation.”
The Boeing 737 MAX 8 is the same type of plane as the Indonesian Lion Air jet that crashed soon after takeoff from Jakarta in 2018 — killing 189 people.
But Geoffrey Thomas, the editor in chief of Airline Ratings, told CNN the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday had “significant differences” to the Lion Air crash last year. On the Lion Air flight, there were “wild fluctuations in air speed and… we continued to get data from the plane all the way down to impact.”
Sunday’s crash, however, had “no fluctuations and all of the sudden transmission” ceased, he said. “That transmission ceasing indicates catastrophic failure in air.”
The aerospace giant tweeted addressed the Ethiopian Airlines accident on Twitter. “Boeing is aware of reports of an airplane accident and is closely monitoring the situation,” it wrote.
The last major accident involving an Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane was in January 2010, when a flight from Beirut went down, killing 83 passengers and seven crew.