This morning I was woken up by the roar of thunder. The weather here often seems to carry messages. Minutes later I checked my mobile phone to find this message: Ethiopian Airlines flight crashes off Beirut, 82 passengers and 8 crew missing.
Lebanese aviation officials reportedly lost contact with the plane about five minutes after its departure from Beirut early Monday morning, with eyewitnesses claiming to have seen a ball of fire explode in the air before the plane crashed into the Mediterranean Sea. Families of the missing have begun gathering at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport to wait for news as rescue teams are dispatched. Several bodies have already allegedly been recovered. Plane wreckage appears to have been found 20 kilometers south of the Beirut coast line. Stormy weather will no doubt hamper rescue efforts.
A list of the passengers (names and date of birth) can be found here (in Arabic): http://www.scribd.com/doc/25749265/Passengers
According to early reports, the wife of French Ambassor to Lebanon Denis Pietton, Marla Sanzhez, was among those aboard the plane.
A message on the Ethiopian Airlines website reads:
T-409 Incident – 25 January, 2010
Ethiopian flight ET-409 scheduled to operate from Beirut to Addis Ababa on January 25th lost contact with the Lebanese air controllers shortly after take off. The flight departed at 02:35 Lebanese time from Beirut International Airport.
Flight ET-409 carries 82 passenger plus 8 Ethiopian Crew members. Out of the total passengers 23 are Ethiopian, 51 Lebanese, 1 Turkish, 1 French, 2 British, 1 Russian, 1 Canadian, 1 Syrian, 1 Iraqi nationals.
A team is already working on gathering all pertinent information. An investigative team has already been dispatched to the scene and we will release further information as further updates are received.
For more information please contact our emergency call center at:
+251 11 517 8766, +251 91 150 1248, +251 91 125 5577, +251 91 120 3412 or our toll free number +251 11 662 0062