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Monday, March 11, 2019

World News, World News Updates, World News Headlines, Latest World News, Current Affairs

World News, World News Updates, World News Headlines, Latest World News, Current Affairs


Turkey’s Expulsion of German Journalists Has Reignited Concerns Over Press Freedom

Posted: 11 Mar 2019 12:50 AM PDT

Turkey has expelled three German journalists this month, igniting fresh concern over deteriorating press freedom in a country with a history of silencing opposition voices.

Two of the journalists — Thomas Seibert, a reporter with newspaper Tagesspiegel, and Jörg Brase, bureau chief of ZDF public television — said Ankara declined to renew their press accreditation for unspecified reasons, Agence France-Presse reports. They were given 10 days to leave the country in a move Berlin condemned as “unacceptable.”

Speaking in Istanbul before their departure Sunday, Brase and Seibert accused the Turkish government of trying to “silence” international media. Both journalists pledged to continue reporting on the country.

Their expulsion comes after German public broadcast correspondent Halil Gulbeyaz said he also saw his application for accreditation rejected earlier this month, AFP reports.

While the country has jailed dozens of Turkish journalists for alleged links to the failed 2016 coup, this is the thought to be the first time accreditation of foreign journalists has been denied, according to BBC.

Over a hundred media organizations were shut down by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government in the aftermath of the coup attempt, and in April 2018, 13 journalists working for an opposition newspaper called Cumhuriyet were sentenced to prison on terrorism charges.

Turkey remains the world’s worst jailer of journalists, with at least 68 people behind bars in connection with their work as of the end of 2018, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas tweeted Saturday that journalists not being able to “freely pursue their work” is “unacceptable” and that Berlin will open talks with Turkey to discuss the expulsions.

“[There is] no free democracy without a critical press,” Maas told Tagesspiegel. “We will continue to work for journalists to work without restrictions — even in Turkey.”

A senior adviser to President Erdogan denied a government cracking down on journalists, according to BBC.

Amsterdam’s First National Climate Change March Draws 40,000 People

Posted: 10 Mar 2019 10:56 PM PDT

Tens of thousands of people joined a climate change protest in Amsterdam on Sunday, urging the Dutch government to take action on climate change.

The demonstration, the first of its kind in the Netherlands, drew around 40,000 people despite heavy rain, according to Agence France-Presse.

“The high turnout is the proof that people now want a decisive policy on climate from the government,” Greenpeace, one of the march organizers, said in a statement.

The waterlogged European country is expected to be especially vulnerable to the rising tides brought on by climate change. Much of the country already sits below sea level, and some of its land is sinking.

While the U.S. has been backpedalling out of global climate change agreements like the Paris accord, Dutch lawmakers have passed ambitious climate change laws, seeking a 95 percent reduction of the 1990 emissions levels by 2050. But according to some in the country, the action isn’t happening fast enough. In January, a Dutch environmental research agency said the government is lagging behind its goals.

“We are under sea level, so we really need to do something about it,” demonstrator Esther Leverstein, a 21-yer-old climate studies student at Amsterdam University, told AFP.

Students around the world have been leading protests to prompt their governments to address climate change. A worldwide school strike is planned for later this week. Greta Thungerg, a Swedish teenager widely known for her climate change activism, said on Twitter that at least 82 countries plan to participate in the upcoming protest.

China Grounds All Boeing 737 Max 8 Planes After the Deadly Ethiopia Crash

Posted: 10 Mar 2019 08:06 PM PDT

(BEIJING) — China’s civilian aviation authority ordered all Chinese airlines to ground their Boeing 737 Max 8 planes indefinitely on Monday after one of the aircraft crashed in Ethiopia.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China said the order is to take effect by 6 p.m. (1000 GMT) Monday.

It said the order, issued Monday morning, was “taken in line with the management principle of zero tolerance for security risks,” because the crash was the second after another of the planes fell into the ocean off the coast of Indonesia in similar circumstances on Oct. 29, killing all aboard.

The head of Indonesia’s national transport safety agency, Soerjanto Thahjono, offered Monday to assist the Ethiopian investigation into Sunday’s crash.

Like the Ethiopian Airlines crash, which happened minutes after the jet’s takeoff from Addis Ababa and killed all 157 people on board, the Lion Air jet that crashed off Indonesia had erratic speed in the few minutes it was in the air.

The crash put global aviation authorities on alert.

Cayman Airways says it was temporarily grounding the two Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft it operates, as of Monday.

The president and CEO of the Caribbean carrier, Fabian Whorms, acknowledged the cause of the Ethiopian crash was unclear, but said the airline was taking the step because of its “commitment to putting the safety of our passengers and crew first.”

China’s aviation authority said it would issue further notices after consulting with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing.

Eight Chinese nationals on board the Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed.

The crash in Ethiopia has renewed safety questions about the newest version of Boeing’s popular 737 airliner, since the plane was new and the weather was clear at the time. The pilots tried to return to the airport but never made it.

But safety experts cautioned against quickly drawing too many parallels between the two crashes.

it is very early, and more will be known after investigators find and analyze the Ethiopian plane’s black boxes, said William Waldock, an aviation-safety professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

But suspicion will be raised because the same type of plane appeared to crash the same way — a fatal nosedive that left wreckage in tiny pieces.

“Investigators are not big believers in coincidence,” he said.

Waldock said Boeing will look more closely at the flight-management system and automation on the Max.

Boeing representatives did not immediately respond for comment. The company tweeted that it was “deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew” on the Ethiopian Airlines Max airplane.

The Chicago-based company said it would send a technical team to the crash site to help Ethiopian and U.S. investigators.

The 737 is the best-selling airliner in history, and the Max, the newest version of it with more fuel-efficient engines is a central part of Boeing’s strategy to compete with European rival Airbus.

Boeing has delivered about 350 737 Max planes and has orders for more than 5,000. It is already in use by many airlines including American, United and Southwest.

Alan Diehl, a former National Transportation Safety Board investigator, said the similarities in the crashes included both crews encountering a problem shortly after takeoff, and reports of large variations in vertical speed during the Ethiopian jetliner’s ascent, “clearly suggesting a potential controllability problem.”

But there are many possible explanations, including engine problems, pilot error, weight load, sabotage or bird strikes, he said.

Ethiopian has a good reputation, but investigators will look into the plane’s maintenance, especially since that may have been an issue in the Lion Air crash.

Ethiopian Airlines’ CEO told reporters a maintenance check-up did not find any problems with the plane before Sunday’s flight, “so it is hard to see any parallels with the Lion Air crash yet,” said Harro Ranter, founder of the Aviation Safety Network, which compiles information about accidents worldwide.

“I do hope though that people will wait for the first results of the investigation instead of jumping to conclusions based on the very little facts that we know so far,” he said.

The NTSB said it was sending a team of four to assist Ethiopian authorities. Boeing and the U.S. investigative agency are also involved in the Lion Air probe.

Indonesian investigators have not stated a cause for that crash, but they are examining whether faulty readings from a sensor might have triggered an automatic nose-down command to the plane, which the Lion Air pilots fought unsuccessfully to overcome. The automated system kicks in if sensors indicate that a plane is about to lose lift, or go into an aerodynamic stall. Gaining speed by diving can prevent a stall.

The Lion Air plane’s flight data recorder showed problems with an airspeed indicator on four flights, although the airline initially said the problem was fixed.

The director general of Air Transportation in Indonesia, Polana B. Pramesti, said the agency has been following up on an FAA airworthiness directive and is still evaluating the 737 Max 8 following the crash.

Days after the Oct. 29 accident, Boeing sent a notice to airlines that faulty information from a sensor could cause the plane to automatically point the nose down. The notice reminded pilots of the procedure for handling such a situation, which is to disable the system causing the automatic nose-down movements.

Boeing Chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in December that the Max is a safe plane, and that Boeing did not withhold operating details from airlines and pilots.

Pilots at some airlines, however, including American and Southwest, have protested that they were not fully informed about the new system.

The Lion Air incident appears not to have harmed Boeing’s ability to sell the Max. Boeing’s stock fell nearly 7 percent on the day of the Lion Air crash. Since then it has soared 26 percent higher, compared with a 4 percent gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index.

Malaysia Frees Indonesian Suspect Jailed for 2 Years Over Kim Jong Nam’s Killing

Posted: 10 Mar 2019 08:00 PM PDT

(SHAH ALAM, Malaysia) — An Indonesian woman held two years on suspicion of killing the North Korean leader’s half brother was freed from custody Monday after prosecutors unexpectedly dropped the murder charge against her.

Siti Aisyah cried and hugged her co-defendant, Doan Thi Huong from Vietnam, before leaving the courtroom. She told reporters she had only learned that morning that she would be freed. “I am surprised and very happy. I didn’t expect it.”

The two young women were accused of smearing VX nerve agent on Kim Jong Nam’s face in an airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 13, 2017. They have said they thought they were taking part in a prank for a TV show. They had been the only suspects in custody after four North Korean suspects fled the country the same morning Kim was killed.

The High Court judge discharged Aisyah without an acquittal after prosecutors said they wanted to withdraw the murder charge against her. They did not give a reason.

Prosecutor Iskandar Ahmad said the discharge not amounting to acquittal means Aisyah can be recharged but there are no such plans for now.

Aisyah was quickly ushered out of the court building in an embassy car. Her lawyers said she is heading to the Indonesian Embassy and expected to fly to Jakarta soon.

Huong’s murder trial was put on hold after the surprise development. She was to have begun giving her defense in Monday’s court session, after months of delay.

“I am in shock. My mind is blank,” a distraught Huong told reporters through a translator after Aisyah left.

Indonesian Ambassador Rusdi Kirana said he was thankful to the Malaysian government. “We believe she is not guilty,” he said.

Huong’s Lawyer, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, said they will seek to postpone the trial. He said Huong was distraught and felt Aisyah’s discharge was unfair to her as the judge last year had found sufficient evidence to continue the murder trial against them.

A High Court judge last August had found there was enough evidence to infer Aisyah, Huong and the four missing North Koreans had engaged in a “well-planned conspiracy” to kill Kim Jong Nam. The defense phase of the trial had been scheduled to start in January but was delayed until Monday.

Salim Bashir, a lawyer for Huong, said previously she was prepared to testify under oath for her defense.

“She is confident and ready to give her version of the story. It is completely different from what the prosecutors had painted. She was filming a prank and had no intention to kill or injure anyone,” he told the AP.

Lawyers for the women have previously said they were pawns in a political assassination with clear links to the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and that the prosecution failed to show the women had any intention to kill. Intent to kill is crucial to a murder charge under Malaysian law.

Malaysian officials have never officially accused North Korea and have made it clear they don’t want the trial politicized.

Kim Jong Nam was the eldest son in the current generation of North Korea’s ruling family. He had been living abroad for years but could have been seen as a threat to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s rule.

China Defends Tibet Policies 60 Years After the Dalai Lama’s Exile

Posted: 10 Mar 2019 07:34 PM PDT

BEIJING (AP) — China is defending its often-criticized rule in Tibet 60 years after the Dalai Lama fled into exile amid an abortive uprising against Chinese control, saying those who question its policies are merely showing their anti-Chinese bias.

The statements in official media came as Tibetans and their supporters marked the anniversary Sunday and called for greater international support. Despite decades of such calls, however, the Himalayan region appears no closer to gaining greater autonomy, particularly as China’s global influence grows.

China’s official Xinhua News Agency said in an editorial dated Saturday that economic growth, increases in lifespan and better education in the region refute the claims of critics that Tibetans suffer oppression from Beijing.

On Sunday, an editorial in the Communist Party-run Tibet Daily attacked the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s traditional Buddhist leader, for what it said are his efforts to “sow chaos in Tibet.”

His “separatist plots are doomed to total failure,” the paper said.

The Dalai Lama has been living in the northern Indian town of Dharmsala since he fled from Tibet after a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule. Beijing accuses him of seeking to separate Tibet from China, which he denies.

Tibet is enveloped in smothering layers of Chinese security and many Tibetans abroad say the Himalayan region’s resources are being exploited for Beijing’s benefit while Tibet’s language and unique Buddhist culture is gradually being destroyed.

In India’s capital, New Delhi, at least 3,000 Tibetans marched about 3 kilometers (2 miles) through the center of the city on Sunday carrying Tibetan and Indian flags. Invoking India’s concerns over China’s expansive power in Asia and beyond, the marchers shouted slogans including “Tibet’s freedom is India’s security” and “India-China friendship is a sham.”

They also carried a portrait of the Dalai Lama while occasionally chanting slogans wishing him a long life and calling for freedom for Tibet.

“We have come here to remind the new generation that China snatched our country … that’s why we got together and started this movement,” said one marcher, Sonam Yougyal, 52.

Hundreds of Tibetans and Taiwanese rallied in Taipei, the capital of the self-governing island democracy that China also claims as its territory.

Tashi Tsering, chair of the Human Rights Network for Tibet and Taiwan, recalled what he called China’s history of reneging on agreements to Tibetans and others.

“We should not trust the Communist Party of China whatever it says,” he said.

China says Tibet has been part of its territory for centuries, although many Tibetans say they were essentially independent for most of that time. Communist troops took control of the region in 1950 after a brief military struggle.

Conditions in the region are difficult to independently ascertain because foreign travelers must get special permission to enter the region. Access is rarely given to foreign journalists, and the region is closed to foreigners entirely during sensitive anniversaries.

The Xinhua editorial did not directly mention Sunday’s uprising anniversary, referring to the events of 1959 instead as the inauguration of “democratic reform” that saw the dismantlement of the Buddhist hierarchy and feudal structures.

“Sixty years since the epoch-making democratic reform in Tibet, people in the plateau region have enjoyed unprecedented human rights in history,” Xinhua said.

“Undeniable facts and figures” related to development “debunk the repeated lies and accusations that aim to smear Tibet’s human rights with vile motives,” it said. “Anyone without bias will recognize Tibet’s tremendous progress in human rights.”

Among the figures it cited were a rise in life expectancy of 35.5 years in the 1950s to nearly 70 now; a double-digit growth in regional GDP over the last quarter-century; and reduction of poverty by 80 percent.

China has refused to meet with the Dalai Lama or his representatives until they surrender their conditions for a greater degree of autonomy and submit to Beijing’s authority unequivocally.

On Wednesday, China’s Communist Party chief in Tibet insisted that the Tibetan people feel more affection toward the government than to the Dalai Lama, who fled following the abortive uprising against Chinese.

The Dalai Lama hasn’t done a “single good thing” for Tibet since he left, Tibet Party Secretary Wu Yingjie said during a meeting of China’s ceremonial legislature.

Chinese rule in Tibet has grown harsher since anti-government protests in 2008 culminated in attacks on businesses and individuals of Han Chinese ethnicity, the country’s ethnic majority.

The government says rioters killed 18 people. An unknown number of Tibetans were killed by security forces in the aftermath.

More recently, traditionally Tibetan regions of western China have been racked by a series of self-immolations by Buddhist clergy and lay people calling for the return of the Dalai Lama, now 83 years old.

Also, on a visit to Prague on Wednesday, the prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile said he was heartened to see support for his people in the Czech Republic.

“Each time I come here, I get encouraged, I get the fuel to go back and say ‘There are people around the world who support us, who believe us,'” said Lobsang Sangay.

India’s Elections to Begin April 11 as Modi Seeks Another Term

Posted: 10 Mar 2019 06:34 PM PDT

(NEW DELHI) — India’s Election Commission announced Sunday that national elections will begin April 11, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party seeks a second term.

About 900 million people are eligible to vote in a staggered process that allows the government to deploy tens of thousands of troops around the country to prevent violence and the capture of voting stations by party activists.

Chief election commissioner Sunil Arora said the election will be held April 11, 18, 23 and 29, and May 6, 12 and 19. The votes will be counted May 23.

Modi’s Bhartiya Janata Party, or BJP, hopes the government’s recent tough stand against Pakistan will help it retain its popularity despite suffering a setback in December when it lost three key state elections to the opposition Congress party.

Indian aircraft crossed into Pakistan on Feb. 26, carrying out what India called a pre-emptive strike against militants blamed for a Feb. 14 suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 Indian troops. Pakistan retaliated, shooting down two Indian planes and capturing a pilot, Wing Cmdr. Abhinandan Varthaman, who was later returned to India.

Since then, Modi and BJP leaders have been projecting the party and its leaders as decisive and tough on national security. Opposition parties, however, have accused Modi and his party of using national security matters to try to influence voters.

On Saturday, the Election Commission ordered political parties to tell their candidates and leaders not to display photographs of defense personnel in advertisements as part of their election campaigns.

The commission said armed forces are “apolitical and neutral stakeholders in a modern democracy.”

The order came after billboards featuring the BJP, including Modi and the party’s president, Amit Shah, along with air force pilot Varthaman, appeared in parts of the country.

While it is too early to speculate on whether Modi’s toughened stand will help the BJP, the December election setback is expected to revive the political fortunes of the Congress party, led by Rahul Gandhi, the 48-year-old scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family.

Gandhi, who took over as party president from his mother, Sonia Gandhi, in 2017, is also trying to bring disparate opposition parties together with his party as the main threat to Modi.

India’s last national election, in 2014, was conducted in nine phases. The BJP achieved an absolute majority, with 282 parliamentary seats out of 543. The then-ruling Congress party managed only 44 seats following bribery charges against several party leaders and poor governance.

After Second New Boeing Airplane Goes Down, Experts Voice Concerns — But Answers Will Be a Long Time Coming

Posted: 10 Mar 2019 01:45 PM PDT

Airline operators are racing to find answers following the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which went down shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa on Sunday morning, killing all 157 people aboard.

The aircraft is the second new Boeing 737 Max 8 to go down in recent months, following the crash of Lion Air Flight 610 in October, which killed 189 people. The 737 Max is the newest version of Boeing’s popular single-aisle airliner and the Associated Press reports that Ethiopian Airlines has only had this particular aircraft since November.

“A brand new aircraft… having repeated fatal crashes would put a big question mark on this aircraft,” Bijan Vasigh, a professor of economics and finance at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, told TIME over email.

Caught at the center of two devastating crashes, representatives from Boeing have so far refrained from speculating on what may have caused Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 to go down.

“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,” a representative from the aircraft manufacturer told TIME in a statement. The company also noted that a Boeing technical team would be heading to the crash site in order to provide technical assistance under the supervision of the Ethiopia Accident Investigation Bureau and U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.

Experts say it’s too early to know what may have been responsible for the recent crash of Flight 302, though they noted several similarities between the crash outside Addis Ababa and last year’s Lion Air Flight 610 tragedy.

“It’s an eye opener, because it’s the second accident and it’s almost involving the same kind of circumstances,” said Ahmed Abdelghany, a professor of operations management at Embry-Riddle. “It should be a concern, but it’s too early to confirm anything.”

Abdelghany noted the need for an in-depth investigation to determine the cause of the crash, particularly looking into the Ethiopian Airlines aircraft’s maintenance history. He did note several points of similarity between the two deadly crashes, including the fact that both involved the same model of aircraft, and also occurred minutes after takeoff.

According to Abdelghany, investigators will begin combing through the maintenance record of the aircraft and try to gain insights from its black box, though it will take two to three years to finalize a report on the main reasons behind the crash. Though he says it is likely that some travelers may try to avoid flying on 737 Max 8 aircraft, at least until more answers come to light, he stressed that it is the responsibility of the airline to make sure their airplanes are safe.

“Indications are these two accidents were not caused by human error, but were caused by mechanical error and transfer of information from cockpit to the pilot,” Vasigh told TIME, noting that it was still much too early to know the exact cause of Sunday’s crash. He also noted that Ethiopian Airlines has an excellent safety record and that Flight 302 was under the command of an experienced pilot.

According to Ethiopian Airlines, the pilot of Flight 302, Yared Getachew, had more than 8,000 hours of flying time and a record of “commendable performance.” The crashed plan had undergone a “rigorous” maintenance check in early February.

Following last year’s Lion Air crash, the New York Times reported that investigators determined new Boeing software might have been behind the disaster. The Times said investigators found the software “can send the plane into a fatal descent if the altitude and angle information being fed into the computer system is incorrect.”

Abdelghany noted the importance of training pilots in new aeronautics systems, especially when changes have been implemented in new aircraft. He also noted brewing concerns regarding Boeing’s Max 8 aircraft.

“If it takes serious action to stop this aircraft until we make sure it’s safe, we should take that action of course,” said Abdelghany. “People and safety come first.”

President Trump Would Be ‘Pretty Disappointed’ If North Korea Tests a Rocket, Bolton Says

Posted: 10 Mar 2019 07:49 AM PDT

(WEST PALM BEACH, Florida) — The top national security adviser says President Donald Trump would be “pretty disappointed” if North Korea were to launch a new rocket or missile test, as some experts believe he could be preparing to do.

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” John Bolton would not confirm reports based on commercial satellite imagery that North Korea is making moves, saying he’d rather not go into specifics.

But he says the U.S. government is watching North Korea “constantly,” and that, “Nothing in the proliferation game surprises me anymore.”

He also says Trump would “be pretty disappointed if Kim Jong Un went ahead and did something like that” after he vowed not to at a summit in Vietnam.

The new activity was detected at a North Korean missile research center and long-range rocket site.

157 Believed Dead in Ethiopian Airlines Plane Crash

Posted: 10 Mar 2019 05:27 AM PDT

(ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia) — A jetliner carrying 157 people crashed shortly after takeoff from the Ethiopian capital Sunday, killing everyone aboard and carving a crater into the ground, authorities said. At least 35 nationalities were among the dead.

It was not clear what caused the Ethiopian Airlines plane to go down in clear weather on its way to Nairobi, the capital of neighboring Kenya. The accident was strikingly similar to last year’s crash of a Lion Air jet that plunged into the Java Sea, killing 189 people. Both crashes involved the Boeing 737 Max 8, and both happened minutes after the jets became airborne.

The Ethiopian pilot sent out a distress call and was given clearance to return to the airport in Addis Ababa, the airline’s CEO told reporters.

Families around the world grieved. At the Addis Ababa airport, a woman called a mobile number in vain. “Where are you, my son?” she said, in tears. Others cried as they approached the terminal.

At the crash site, the impact caused the plane to shatter into small pieces. Personal belongings and aircraft parts were strewn across the freshly churned earth. Bulldozers dug into the crater to pull out buried pieces of the jet.

Red Cross teams and others searched for human remains. In one photo, teams could be seen loading black plastic bags into trucks.

As sunset approached, crews were still searching for the plane’s flight-data recorder, the airline’s chief operating officer said.

Other worried families gathered in Nairobi. Agnes Muilu came to pick up his brother: “I just pray that he is safe or he was not on it.”

Relatives were frustrated by the lack of word on loved ones.

“Why are they taking us round and round. It is all over the news that the plane crashed,” said Edwin Ong’undi, who was waiting for his sister. “All we are asking for is information to know about their fate.”

The accident is likely to renew questions about the 737 Max, the newest version of the single-aisle airliner, which was first introduced in 1967 and became the world’s most common passenger jet.

Indonesian investigators have not determined a cause for the October crash, but days after the accident Boeing sent a notice to airlines that faulty information from a sensor could cause the plane to automatically point the nose down. The notice reminded pilots of the procedure for handling such a situation.

The Lion Air cockpit data recorder showed that the jet’s airspeed indicator had malfunctioned on its last four flights, though the airline initially said problems with the aircraft had been fixed before it left the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.

Safety experts cautioned against drawing too many comparisons between the two crashes until more is known about Sunday’s disaster.

The Ethiopian Airlines CEO “stated there were no defects prior to the flight, so it is hard to see any parallels with the Lion Air crash yet,” said Harro Ranter, founder of the Aviation Safety Network, which compiles information about accidents worldwide.

The airline published a photo showing its CEO standing in the wreckage.

The Ethiopian plane was new, having been delivered to the airline in November.

State-owned Ethiopian Airlines is widely considered the best-managed airline in Africa and calls itself Africa’s largest carrier. It has ambitions of becoming the gateway to the continent and is known as an early buyer of new aircraft.

“Ethiopian Airlines is one of the safest airlines in the world. At this stage we cannot rule out anything,” CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said.

The airline said 149 passengers and eight crew members were thought to be on the plane.

Ethiopian Airlines issued a list showing 35 nationalities among the dead, including 32 Kenyans and 18 Canadians. The list reflected a broad range of backgrounds, with passengers from China, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Israel, India and Somalia. Several countries lost more than five citizens.

Some of those aboard were thought to be traveling to a major United Nations environmental meeting scheduled to start Monday in Nairobi.

The plane crashed six minutes after departing, plowing into the ground at Hejere near Bishoftu, or Debre Zeit, some 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Addis Ababa, at 8:44 a.m.

The jetliner showed unstable vertical speed after takeoff, air traffic monitor Flightradar 24 said in a Twitter post.

The Addis Ababa-Nairobi route links East Africa’s two largest economic powers and is popular with tourists making their way to safaris and other destinations. Sunburned travelers and tour groups crowd the Addis Ababa airport’s waiting areas, along with businessmen from China and elsewhere.

The jet’s last maintenance was on Feb. 4, and it had flown just 1,200 hours. The pilot was a senior aviator, joining the airline in 2010, the CEO said.

The Boeing 737 Max 8 was one of 30 being delivered to the airline, Boeing said in a statement in July when the first was delivered.

Boeing said a technical team was ready to provide assistance at the request of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.

The last deadly crash of an Ethiopian Airlines passenger flight was in 2010, when a plane went down minutes after takeoff from Beirut, killing all 90 people on board.

African air travel, long troubled and chaotic, has improved in recent years, with the International Air Transport Association in November noting “two years free of any fatalities on any aircraft type.”

Ethiopian officials declared Monday a national day of mourning.

Sunday’s crash comes as the country’s reformist prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has vowed to open up the airline and other sectors to foreign investment in a major transformation of the state-centered economy.

Ethiopian Airlines’ expansion has included the recent opening of a route to Moscow and the inauguration in January of a new passenger terminal in Addis Ababa to triple capacity.

Speaking at the inauguration, the prime minister challengedthe airline to build a new “Airport City” terminal in Bishoftu — where Sunday’s crash occurred.