An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 passenger jet to Nairobi crashed early Sunday with 149 passengers and eight crew members aboard, and there were no survivors, the airline said.
Ethiopia's state broadcaster says the plane was carrying passengers from 33 countries.
Ethiopian Airlines said those killed included 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians, eight Americans, eight Chinese and eight Italians. Other victims were from India, Britain, the Netherlands, France, Egypt and several other countries.
Flight ET 302 crashed near the town of Bishoftu, 62 kilometres 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 a.m. local time, before losing contact with the control tower just a few minutes later at 8:44 a.m.
Tewolde GebreMariam, the airline's chief executive officer, said the pilot reported difficulties and asked for permission to turn back.
The prime minister's office sent condolences via Twitter to the families of those lost in the crash, without offering further details.
The plane crashed near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa. (Tiksa Negeri/Reuters )
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.
Its last major crash was in January 2010, when a flight from Beirut went down shortly after takeoff.
Records show that the Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane that crashed on Sunday was a new one.
There were no immediate details on what caused the crash of the Boeing 737, some 50 kilometres south of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. (Associated Press/file photo)
The Planespotters civil aviation database shows the Boeing 737-8 MAX was delivered to Ethiopian Airlines in mid-November.
The state-owned Ethiopian Airlines calls itself Africa's largest carrier and has ambitions of becoming the gateway to the continent.