View Full Version : Ethiopian airliner crashes on takeoff in Lebanon

01-25-2010, 06:19 AM
An Ethiopian jet carrying 90 passengers and crew plunged into the sea off Lebanon in a ball of fire just after takeoff in stormy weather early Monday, witnesses and Transport Minister Ghazi Aridi said.

It was unclear whether there were any survivors. Helicopters and navy vessels could be seen at the crash site and Aridi said several bodies had been recovered.

The minister said Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409 lost contact with the airport control tower shortly after takeoff and crashed into the Mediterranean sea about 12 kilometres (seven miles) south of the airport.

"The control tower was assisting the pilot of the plane on takeoff and suddenly lost contact for no known reason," Aridi told reporters, identifying the crash site as being about 3.5 kilometres (two miles) off the coastal village of Na'ameh.

Families of the passengers, some of them weeping, could be seen huddled at the VIP lounge of Beirut International Airport while awaiting news of their loved ones.

One woman was sobbing and screaming, "Why, why?"

A government official said there were several children on board the plane, which crashed about five minutes after takeoff at 2:30 am (1230 GMT).

Witnesses reported seeing a ball of fire as the Boeing 737 plunged into the sea.

The accident took place amid heavy rains and storms in Lebanon in the past two days that have caused heavy flooding and damage in some parts of the country.

Aridi said the passengers include 54 Lebanese, 22 Ethiopians, one Iraqi, one French woman, one Syrian and seven crew members. There were also several dual nationals including two British-Lebanese, one Canadian-Lebanese and a Russian-Lebanese.

Thousands of Ethiopians are employed as domestic workers in Lebanon and Ethiopian Airlines operates a regular flight between Addis Ababa and Beirut.

Among those on board the flight was Marla Sanchez Pietton, the wife of France's ambassador to Lebanon, Denis Pietton, the French embassy told AFP.

Aridi said he had formed an investigative committee to determine the cause of the crash and had contacted nearby countries to assist in the search and rescue effort.

The Lebanese army, navy as well as the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) were assisting in the rescue, Aridi added.

"We have contacted everyone, inside and outside the country, that can assist us and the Lebanese navy, the army and UNIFIL have joined in the rescue," the minister added.

He said the French organisation responsible for technical investigation of civil aviation accidents was taking part in the probe.

A government official said Cyprus was assisting in the search and rescue efforts. He said a UN helicopter from Cyprus was dispatched to the site.

A German naval UNIFIL boat was also at the site.

The Boeing 737-800, which entered into commercial service in 1998, is one of the latest versions of the world's most widely used short to medium-haul airliners, and is capable of carrying up to 189 passengers.

The accident comes just one month after a Panamian-flagged ship transporting livestock capsized in stormy weather and sank off the coast of northern Lebanon with around 80 sailors on board.

01-25-2010, 02:51 PM
Sad news :(


Sean Nixon
01-25-2010, 03:03 PM
Another B738 incident! There's been a few lately, although none as bad as this.

Steve A
01-25-2010, 03:36 PM
Very sad whenever i read about this kind of tragedy. The weather in this part of the eastern med has been stormy with high winds and a lot of rain.

02-03-2010, 05:09 AM
We shall mourn the loss of the 22 ethopia. May the **** recieve them in his Kingdom, Amen.

07-16-2010, 03:26 AM
Ethiopian Airlines is a very safe airline, has relatively modern fleet , well experienced crew and a very commendable pilot and technician training school. My heartfelt condolences to all victims of this tragedy, RIP.