He said there was still smoke at the site when he visited.
In the US, the Federal Aviation Administration said it would join the National Transportation Safety Board in assisting Ethiopian authorities with the crash investigation. The crash was likely to renew questions about the 737 Max 8, the newest version of Boeing's single-aisle airliner, which was first introduced in 1967 and has become the world's most common passenger jet.
The reason for the crash is not yet known.
The Ethiopian plane was new, having been delivered to the airline in November.
The accident occurred around Bishoftu, and Ethiopian Airlines in a statement earlier revealed that no person on board survived.
Among the airlines still using the plane are Southwest, American and Air Canada.
James Macharia, the cabinet secretary for transport, said he heard about the crash via Twitter. "I just pray that he is safe or he was not on it", he said.
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Passengers from 33 countries were aboard, said Tewolde in a news conference.
Boeing and joint venture partner Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) operate a plant in the eastern city of Zhoushan that completes the interiors of 737 MAX planes for Chinese airlines. Ethiopian Airlines said the senior pilot issued a distress call and was told to return but all contact was lost shortly afterward. And Indonesian officials planned to meet Monday to decide whether to ground the planes there, the Journal reported.
The cause of that crash is still under investigation. There was a huge smoke that we couldn't even see the plane.
Kenya lost 32 people, more than any country.
They said investigators would examine the wreckage and bodies for any signs of burns or unusual forces and study the shape and size of the wreckage field. "They are in shock like we are".
One Ugandan has been confirmed as having been among the 157 people who died after an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed on Sunday in Ethiopia.
The plane lost contact with the control tower six minutes after takeoff. Among those were seven staffers of the World Food Programme; six staff from the U.N. Office in Nairobi; two each from the Office of the High Commissioner on Refugees and the International Telecommunications Union; and one each from the Food and Agriculture Organization, International Organization for Migration in Sudan, World Bank, and UN Assistance Mission in Somalia. Both Addis Ababa and Nairobi are major hubs for humanitarian workers, and many people were on their way to a large United Nations environmental conference set to begin Monday in Nairobi.