Confederation of African Football (CAF) has lost one of its match commissioners as Kenya’s Hussein Swaleh, a Kenyan who was one of the victims of the ill-fated Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed on Sunday morning on its way from Addis Ababa to Nairobi.
Swaleh, who was a former Kenya Football Federation Secretary General was returning from CAF Champions League match pitting Egyptian side Ismailia and DRC’s TP Mazembe played on Friday in Cairo. He was the match commissioner of the encounter.
He was among the 157 aboard of the aircraft which had Kenya as the most affected of the 33 countries that lost citizens in the ill-fated flight. In all, there were 32 Kenyans aboard the flight which was reportedly piloted by an experienced Ethiopian-born Kenyan, Capitan Yared Mulugeta.
Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde Gebremariam remarked that the pilot was a senior pilot, who had been flying the same plane since November 2007. His first officer had several flight hours under his belt too.
The cause of the crash is yet to be ascertained. It happened at 08.44 local time, six minutes after the flight took-off from the Ethiopian capital.
“It is believed that there were 149 passengers and eight crew on board but we are currently confirming the details of the passenger manifest for the flight,” it said.
It added that search and rescue operations had been launched and that its officials were also checking for information on survivors and casualties.
“Staff will be sent to the accident scene and will do everything possible to assist the emergency services,” the statement said.
The airline also said it would set up an information centre and provide a phone number for family and friends.
Ethiopian Airlines identified the flight number as ET 302/10 and said the crash took place around Bishoftu, formerly known as Debre-Zeit.
The plane’s other identification details were given as B-737-800MAX, registration ET-AVJ.
The aircraft left Bole International Airport in the Ethiopian capital at 8.38am local time and lost contact six minutes later.
The Boeing 737-800MAX is the same type of plane as the Indonesian Lion Air jet that crashed last October, 13 minutes after takeoff from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board.
The last major accident involving an Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane was a Boeing 737-800 that exploded after taking off from Lebanon in 2010, killing 83 passengers and seven crew.