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Photo of 1978 plane crash in US, not 2019 Ethiopian Airlines tragedy

A photo of a diving aircraft in flames has been shared on a popular Kenyan Facebook group page with the claim it shows the Ethiopian Airlines plane that went down on 10 March 2019, killing 157 people.

“Photo taken before Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 registration number ET 302 on a regular flight to Nairobi, Kenya crashed 6 minutes after take off,” the caption reads. “Plane had 149 passengers, 8 crew members on board”.

The plane was flying from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to Nairobi, Kenya when it crashed in Bishoftu, a town southeast of Addis.

But does the photo really show the ill-fated plane?

Pacific Southwest Airlines crash in San Diego

A reverse image search of the photo brings up the name “Pacific Southwest Airlines”. And letters on the side of the plane appear to spell “PSA”. 

A number of websites identify it as “Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 182”.

The photo has been shared online for years, long before the Ethiopian Airlines crash and as early as 2012. But it’s much older than that. 

A different search leads to the photo library AP Images. The photo is featured on the library’s homepage

Searching “PSA Flight 182” on the website leads to a similar black-and-white photo. 

The caption reads: “Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 182, with its wing aflame after a collision with a smaller plane, plunges to earth killing all passengers and crew, in San Diego, Sept. 25, 1978. At least 150 people were killed when the planes crashed into a residential area.”

AP Images doesn’t name the photographer, but it has been published on many other websites where it is credited to Hans Wendt, a photographer for the County of San Diego.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Wendt was a finalist for a Pulitzer prize for one of his photos of the 1978 crash. 

The photo is more than 40 years old. It doesn’t show the 2019 plane crash in Ethiopia. – Dancan Bwire


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