2020 Photo Contest, Spot News, 1st Prize

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 Crash Site


Mulugeta Ayene

Associated Press

11 March, 2019

Rescue workers search through debris at the crash site of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302, near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the day after the plane crashed.

On 10 March, Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302, a Boeing 737 MAX, disappeared from the radar six minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa airport and crashed into a field, killing all 157 people on board. The impact was so great that both engines were buried in a crater 10 meters deep.  A week after the crash, empty coffins were buried at a ceremony at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa, as victims were unable to be identified. Officials gave relatives bags of earth from the crash site. On 14 November, eight months after the crash, the site of the impact was covered and the unidentified remains of victims buried in rows of identical coffins. Comparisons were made with the crash of a Lion Air aircraft, also a 737 MAX, 12 minutes after take-off from Jakarta in October 2018. Countries across the world, initially with the exception of the US, grounded the 737 MAX. First reports showed that pilots had been unable to prevent the plane repeatedly nosediving, despite following procedures recommended by Boeing. It appeared that in both cases pilots were struggling to deal with an automated safety system designed to prevent stalling, which was repeatedly pushing the nose of the plane down. It seemed that the system was being activated, possibly due to a faulty sensor, even though nothing was wrong. It later emerged that American Airlines pilots had confronted Boeing about potential safety issues with the MAX. Boeing had resisted their calls but promised a software fix, which had not been done by the time Flight ET302 crashed. Planes remained grounded into 2020.  

About the photographer

Mulugeta Ayene

Mulugeta Ayene is an Ethiopian photojournalist and fine art photographer living in Addis  Ababa.   While his work covers a wide range of subjects, recurrent themes in...

Technical information

Shutter Speed
Canon EOS 5D Mark III

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