Ethiopian airliner crashes into Mediterranean Sea

Monday, January 25, 2010

An Ethiopian Airlines 737 similar to the aircraft involved in the crash
Image: Hansueli Krapf.

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409, scheduled to fly from Beirut, Lebanon, to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia crashed into the Mediterranean Sea shortly after taking off Monday morning. Ethiopian Airlines report 83 people on board.

Flight ET409, a Boeing 737, was set to leave at 2:10 am local time, but was delayed until 2:35. The passenger plane took off in stormy conditions, and it disappeared from radar five minutes later.

Eyewitnesses reported a ball of fire as the plane went down. Debris has already been seen off the Lebanese coast.

Rescue efforts are underway amid continuing heavy rains. However, it is unknown if there are any survivors. Among the passengers are 23 Ethiopian, 51 Lebanese, 1 Turkish, 1 French, 2 British, 1 Russian, 1 Canadian, 1 Syrian, 1 Iraqi nationals. The French embassy also stated that the wife of the French ambassador to Lebanon was on board.

Lebanon's Transport Minister Ghazi al-Aridi said that the crash site "has been identified three-and-a-half km west of the village of Na'ameh".