Chinese leader Xi condoles with President Uhuru following Ethiopian plane crash

Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has condoled with President Uhuru Kenyatta for the loss of 32 Kenyans in yesterday's plane crash.

President Xi expressed shock after learning of the air crash that caused the death of 157 people.

“I would like to express, on behalf of the Chinese people and Chinese government as well as in my own name, our deep condolences to the unfortunate victims and our heartfelt solicitude to the bereaved families,” Xi said in a letter to President Uhuru.

China also lost eight of its citizens in the crash. Following the crash China grounded all Boeing CO 737 MAX 8 over security concerns. Ethiopia also followed suit and grounded its fleet.

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In October last year, the same plane killed more than 180 people in Indonesia.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed broke the news of the tragedy with a condolence message on his Twitter account, long before any news organisation did.

“The Office of the PM, on behalf of the Government and people of Ethiopia, would like to express 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,” Mr Abiy tweeted at 10.50am, about two hours and eight minutes after the crash.

Authorities in Kenya had not received any notification, with the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority saying it could not have detected the accident as air traffic controllers had not made contact with Nairobi.

"We hereby confirm that our scheduled flight ET 302 from Addis Ababa to Nairobi was involved in an accident today," Ethiopian airline said in a statement on Sunday at 11am, 10 minutes after the PM’s tweet.

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President Uhuru Kenyatta later sent a message of condolence, but without providing details on the Kenyans involved in the accident.  

"We are saddened by the news of an Ethiopian Airlines passenger aircraft that is reported to have crashed six minutes after takeoff en route to Kenya. My prayers go to all the families and associates of those on board," Uhuru wrote on twitter.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga said: “My deeply felt condolences to the people of Ethiopia following the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines plane. My prayers are with the families and relatives of victims.”

It was not immediately clear what caused the crash of the Boeing 737 MAX 8. The new plane was delivered to the airline last October. The manufacturer has offered to help with investigations.

“Boeing is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew on Ethiopian Airline Flight 302, a Boeing 737 Max-8 airplane. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew on board and stand ready to support the Ethiopian Airlines team.

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"A Boeing technical team is prepared to provide assistance to the request and under the direction of the US National Transport Safety Board,” the firm said in a statement.

Kenya's national carrier said: “Kenya Airways wishes to send a message of condolence to Ethiopian Airlines and the families of those that have lost their loved ones on flight ET 302/10 en route to Nairobi. You can count on our full support at this very difficult moment.”

Both Addis and Nairobi have provided emergency response centres for families of those on board to receive assistance.

Ethiopia’s has declared a day of mourning for the victims of the plane crash. On Monday afternoon authorities also confirmed the recovery of the plane's data recorder.

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President Xi JinpingEthiopian AirlinesBoeing CO 737 MAX 8