Some 149 passengers and eight crew members were thought to have been on the Boeing 737-8 MAX plane destined for Nairobi when it crashed six minutes after departing Addis Ababa on Sunday morning.
Kenya’s transport secretary James Macharia told reporters that he could confirm there were nationals from at least 35 different countries on board, including seven passengers from the UK.
The state-owned airline, thought by many to be the best-managed in Africa, said there had been no survivors of the flight that hit the ground at about 8.45am.
An eyewitness told the BBC there was an intense fire when the plane crashed.
“The blast and the fire were so strong that we couldn’t get near it,” he said. “Everything is burnt down. There are four helicopters at the scene now.”
A statement from Boeing said the manufacturer was “deeply saddened” to learn of the disaster, adding: “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.”
The last fatal Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane crash was in 2010 when all 90 on board were killed when the aircraft crashed minutes after take-off from Beirut.
The Foreign Office was not immediately able to confirm any British deaths.