Monday, January 25, 2010

Ethiopian Jet Crashes Off Beirut

Ethiopian jet crashes off Beirut

An Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane with 89 people on board has crashed into the Mediterranean Sea shortly after take-off from Beirut airport.

Eyewitnesses say they saw a ball of fire in the sky before the Addis Ababa-bound jet crashed into the sea after taking ff in a heavy rainstorm.

Wreckage from Flight ET409 has been seen off the Lebanese coast.

Most of the those on board were Lebanese and Ethiopian. Two Britons were also on the list, officials said.

The other passengers included citizens of Turkey, France, Russia, Canada, Syria and Iraq, Ethiopian Airlines said in a statement on its website.

Among them was the wife of the French ambassador in Beirut, Marla Pietton.

The plane, a Boeing 737, was carrying 80 passengers and nine crew.

It disappeared from radar screens some five minutes after take-off in stormy weather at about 0200 local time.

The BBC's Natalia Antelava, in Beirut, reports that the Lebanese transport minister and other officials say a rescue operation including helicopters and naval ships is now under way, but it is unclear if there are any survivors.

An investigative team has been dispatched to the scene, Ethiopian Airlines said.

Ethiopia and Lebanon share close business ties, and thousands of Ethiopians are employed as domestic helpers in Lebanon.

Ethiopian Airlines operates a regular flight between Addis Ababa and Beirut.

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Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2010/01/25 06:29:09 GMT

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