Sunday’s flight left Bole airport in Addis Ababa at 8:38 am (0538 GMT), before losing contact with the control tower just a few minutes later at 8:44 am.
“The group CEO who is at the scene right now deeply regrets to confirm there are no survivors,” the airline tweeted alongside a picture of Tewolde GebreMariam in a suit holding a piece of debris inside a large crater.
Passengers from 33 countries were aboard, said Tewolde in a news conference. The dead included Kenyan, Ethiopian, American, Canadian, French, Chinese, Egyptian, Swedish, British and Dutch citizens.
At Nairobi airport, many relatives of passengers were left waiting at the gate for hours, with no information from airport authorities. Some learned of the crash from journalists.
“We’re just waiting for my mum. We’re just hoping she took a different flight or was delayed. She’s not picking up her phone,” said Wendy Otieno, clutching her phone and weeping.
Robert Mutanda, 46, was waiting for his brother-in-law, a Canadian citizen.
“No, we haven’t seen anyone from the airline or the airport,” he told Reuters at 1pm, more than three hours after the flight was lost. “Nobody has told us anything, we are just standing here hoping for the best.”
Kenyan officials did not arrive at the airport until 1:30, five hours after the plane went down.
James Macharia, the cabinet secretary for transport, said he heard about the crash via Twitter.