It has now emerged that the US government warned its citizens “not to arrive or depart Bole International Airport on March 10” just two days before an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed with 149 passengers and eight crew members on board.
The airlines has since confirmed that all passengers and crew on board died on Sunday in the crashed jet which was on a flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi.
Ethiopian Airlines in a statement said the aircraft lost contacts just six minutes after leaving Bole International Airport after taking off at 08.38 am local time from Addis Ababa.
The security alert by the US Department of State, which was posted on March 8, 2019, read:
“#Ethiopia Security Alert: The U.S. Embassy is aware of calls for a protest to be held on March 10, at Meskel Square. Protests have already occurred in many parts of the Oromia region since March 6. U.S. Government travelers have been advised not to arrive or depart Bole International Airport on March 10, and U.S. Embassy personnel are also temporarily prohibited from traveling to Oromia.”
The Oromia region, which is the nine ethnically based regional states of Ethiopia, has been experiencing protest against housing unit allocations tied to land rights of the Oromo people – the most populous ethnic group.
The protest which started on March 7, 2019 has spread across nearly 10 cities in Ethiopia’s Oromia region and has attracted thousands of protesters.
Ethiopian Airlines announced the acquisition of the brand new Max aircraft in July.
According to the Swedish Flightradar 24 website, the aircraft had its maiden flight in October. The site added that the flight’s vertical speed was “unstable” after take off.
The Max model is the newest version of Boeing’s workhorse 737 model, the world’s most popular commercial aircraft.