An Ethiopian church in Burnaby became a place for worshippers to mourn and pray Sunday.

The Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 jetliner crashed shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa en route to Nairobi, Kenya, killing all 157 on board.

"It is very sad news and heartbreaking. We are very sorry for what's happened," said pastor Fitsum Asfaw. "We hope that the Holy Spirit will encourage and give us strength and grace for the families."

Minutes after takeoff, the pilot radioed that he was struggling with the jet and wanted to return to the airport. Soon after, the plane lost radar contact.

“He only got up to little over a thousand feet and we don't really know if he flew into rising terrain or what actually happened. We do know that the vertical speed was fluctuating quite a bit,” Aviation Safety Consultant Keith Mackey told CTV News.  

The plane was carrying people from 35 countries, including 18 Canadians.

Premier John Horgan offered his condolences on social media but it is unclear if any British Columbians were on board ET302.

CTV News has confirmed a man from Ontario and three Albertans have been killed.

Read more: Government officials, doctors, among Ethiopian crash victims 

Among the victims is Pius Adesanmi, a professor in the Department of English Language and Literature and the Institute of African Studies.

"He's a person of integrity, of wholeness, of warmth, and you can imagine the impact of his brilliant intellect as a great scholar and of the kind of man he was, the kind of person that he was," said Benoit-Antoine Bacon, the school's president and vice-chancellor.  

Calgary resident Derick Lwugi, a former president of Calgary's Kenyan Community Association and a city employee, also died. He leaves behind a wife and three children.

An Edmonton mother, Amina Ibrahim Odowaa, and her five-year-old daughter, Safiya Faisal Abdulkadir, were also killed.

"[She was] a very nice person, very outgoing, very friendly. Had a lot of friends," Mohamed Hassan Ali said of his sister, who was travelling to Kenya to visit relatives.

Read more: What we know about the Canadian victims of the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash

In a statement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was "deeply saddened" by news of the crash and he'd reached out to leaders in Kenya and Ethiopia.

"On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our heartfelt condolences to those who have lost family, friends and loved ones."



Second deadly plane crash in five months

It's unclear what caused this tragedy but it has a striking resemblance to another crash in October 2018.

The same model plane, Boeing 737 Max 8, went down off the coast of Indonesia, killing 189 on board.

Read more: Indonesian investigators say doomed Lion Air jet 'airworthy'

Indonesian investigators have not determined a cause but the Lion Air cockpit data recorder showed the jet's airspeed indicator had malfunctioned on its last four flights.

In Canada, the same model is used by WestJet and Air Canada. Both airlines said they are monitoring the situation closely and following the investigation.

Safety experts cautioned against drawing too many comparisons between the two crashes until more is known about Sunday's disaster.

With files from CTV Vancouver's Breanna Karstens-Smith The Canadian Press and The Associated Press