Ethiopian Boeing Flight ‘Smoked And Shuddered’ Minutes Before Crash

Audrey Conklin | Reporter

The Ethiopian Boeing flight that crashed and killed 157 people was showing signs of technical difficulty minutes before the plane went down Sunday.

Witnesses say the Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane was making rattling noises and had a cloud of white smoke and debris such as paper and clothes trailing behind it before it eventually hit the ground, Reuters reports. The pilot’s request to return to the airport came too late.

A local farmer who lives near the crash site told Reuters that the plane made “a loud rattling sound. Like straining and shaking metal. Everyone [in the area] says they have never heard that kind of sound from a plane, and they are under a flight path.”

Rescue team walk past collected bodies in bags at the crash site of Ethiopia Airlines (MICHAEL TEWELDE/AFP/Getty Images)

Rescue team walk past collected bodies in bags at the crash site of Ethiopia Airlines (Photo by Michael TEWELDE / AFP)

Another farmer, who owns the field on which the plane crashed, said he saw smoke and sparks coming from the back of the plane. He also said “the plane was very close to the ground and it made a turn . . . . Cows that were grazing in the fields ran in panic.”

Of the 157 people who died in the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash, there were 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians and eight from Italy, China and the United States.

The deceased include Antoine Lewis, an American serviceman; American brothers Melvin and Bennett Riffel; a Canadian family of six on a trip to Kenya; Cedric Asiavugwa, a third-year Georgetown law student from Kenya; Nigerian-born scholar Pius AdesanmiJonathan Seex, head of Kenya-based restaurant chain Tamarind; Hussein Swaleh, a former Kenyan soccer official; a group of 19 U.N. humanitarian workers; and more.

The U.K. and several E.U. countries banned the Boeing 737 MAX 8 Tuesday along with China, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Indonesia and Oman. (RELATED: UK Becomes Latest Country To Ban Boeing 737 MAX 8)

Local residents collect debris at the scene where Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed in a wheat field just outside the town of Bishoftu, 62 kilometers southeast of Addis Ababa on March 10, 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

Local residents collect debris at the scene where Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

The United States has not banned the plane, but President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday, “Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly … Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further when often old and simpler is far better.”

Boeing said in an official statement Tuesday, “We understand that regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets. We’ll continue to engage with them to ensure they have the information needed to have confidence in operating their fleets.”

The deadly crash comes just months after another Boeing 737 MAX plane went down over the Java Sea in October 2018, killing all 189 people aboard the flight. According to the BBC, “the air flight maintenance log showed six problems had been identified on the plane since 26 October, including errors with its airspeed and altitude information displays.”

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