Ethiopian Airlines: Michael Ryan from Cork among dead

Michael Ryan, was a father of two living in Cork but originally from County Clare Image copyright World Food Programme
Image caption Michael Ryan, was a father of two living in Cork but originally from County Clare

An Irish man is among the 157 people who died after an Ethiopian Airlines jet crashed shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa.

The airline said 149 passengers and eight crew members were on flight ET302 from the Ethiopian capital to Nairobi in Kenya on Sunday.

Michael Ryan, a father of two living in Cork but originally from County Clare, was among the victims.

He had worked as an engineer with the United Nations World Food Programme.

In a statement, a spokesman for the organisation in Nairobi said: "I can confirm that Michael Ryan was on board Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 and perished, and our condolences go to his family."

Executive Director David Beasley said seven members of the World Food Programme had lost their lives in the plane crash.

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Media captionThe BBC's Emmanuel Igunza, at the scene, said there was a huge hole at the point of impact

On its Facebook page, Ennistymon Parish in Clare said it was in shock at the death of Mr Ryan, who was formerly from Lahinch.

The airline said 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, eight Americans and seven British nationals were also among the passengers.

Irish President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar paid tribute to Mr Ryan and the other victims.

President Higgins said: "I express my deep sadness for the tragic loss of so many lives in the air crash in Ethiopia and may I convey the deepest sympathy of the Irish people to all the families and communities affected.

"In particular, I wish to extend my deepest sympathies to the family of Michael Ryan, whose work in humanitarian assistance for the World Food Programme brought him onto the flight."

Mr Varadkar said Mr Ryan had been "doing life-changing work in Africa", adding that his thoughts were with all those who died.

The cause of the disaster is not yet clear. However, the pilot had reported difficulties and had asked to return to Addis Ababa, the airline said.

Image copyright Jonathan Druion
Image caption The Boeing 737 Max-8 aircraft that crashed on Sunday

Visibility was said to be good but air traffic monitor Flightradar24 reported that the plane's "vertical speed was unstable after take-off".

An eyewitness at the scene told the BBC there was an intense fire as the aircraft hit the ground.

Ethiopia has declared Monday a national day of mourning.

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau said he was "deeply saddened" to hear of the crash, adding: "We join the international community in mourning the loss of so many lives."

UK PM Theresa May tweeted her condolences.

African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat expressed "utter shock and immense sadness" while Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said he was "saddened".

The 737 Max-8 aircraft is relatively new to the skies, having only been in commercial use since 2017.

Boeing said it was "deeply saddened" by the crash and offered to send a team to provide technical assistance.

Another plane of the same model was involved in a crash less than five months ago, when a Lion Air flight crashed into the sea near Indonesia with nearly 190 people on board.

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