An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 passenger jet to Nairobi crashed early on Sunday with 149 passengers-including four Indians, tourists, business travellers, and at least one delegate to a UN meeting.and eight crew members aboard, the airline said.


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.


It was not clear what caused the crash of new Boeing 737-8 MAX plane shortly after takeoff from Bole Airport en route to Kenya's capital, Nairobi.


The airline said: “Search and rescue operations are in progress and we have no confirmed information about survivors or any possible casualties.”


The flight had unstable vertical speed after takeoff, said the flight tracking website Flightradar24 on its Twitter feed.


That model number does not exist, however, and multiple aviation websites later identified it as a new 737 MAX 8, the same plane that crashed in Indonesia in October, killing 189.At Nairobi airport, many people were waiting at the gate, with no information from airport authorities.


The flight left Bole airport in Addis Ababa at 8.38 am local time, before losing contact with the control tower just a few minutes later at 8.44 am.


"Search and rescue operations are in progress and we have no confirmed information about survivors or any possible casualties," the airline said in a statement.


The prime minister's office sent condolences via Twitter to the families of those lost in the crash, without offering further details.


The Ethiopian Airlines CEO and Kenya’s transport minister said Indians, Canadians, Chinese, Americans and others were among the many nationalities among the victims of Sunday morning's deadly plane crash after takeoff from Addis Ababa. Authorities earlier said 32 Kenyans and nine Ethiopians were killed.


Then they added that 18 Canadians; eight each from China, the US and Italy; seven each from France and Britain; six from Egypt; five from the Netherlands and four each from India and Slovakia died.


Foreign governments said tourists, business people, doctors, and a Kenyan football official were among the dead.

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 take-off.


On 29 October, a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board.


The plane is the latest version of the 737, the world’s bestselling modern passenger aircraft and considered one of the industry’s most reliable.