[PeterPaul.ca] — All 90 passengers aboard Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET-409 are feared dead Monday after the jet crashed into the Mediterranean Sea shortly after take-off from Beirut International Airport.
Parts of the crashed jetliner, a Boeing 737-800, were found scattered in the sea just 3.5 kilometres from the Lebanese coast. Ethiopian Airlines said in a statement that 25 bodies have been recovered.
“It has been established that 25 bodies have been recovered. 14 have been identified as six Ethiopians and eight Lebanese nationals,” the airline said in a press release.
U.S., Lebanese and U.N. officials were desperately combing the sea for wreckage of the crashed jetliner. No survivors have yet been found.
Most passengers were Lebanese and Ethiopian, including citizens from Turkey, France, Britain, Russia, Syria and Iraq, the airline said. There was one Canadian on the doomed jetliner when it crashed, officials said.
Lebanese officials discounted terrorism as the cause of the crash and have said that a severe thunderstorm might have played a role in the disaster.
“Lebanese officials reportedly are discounting terrorism as the cause, attributing the crash to a severe thunderstorm,” the US Navy said in a statement. The US Embassy in Ethiopia issued a statement.“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of those who were in this terrible accident.”
“Ethiopian Airlines is a demonstrated leader in safe and reliable civil aviation in Africa and internationally. The Embassy and Government of the United States stand prepared to assist Ethiopian Airlines and Ethiopian and Lebanese officials to support the investigation into this tragedy,” the statement added.
Registered ET-ANB at the time of the crash, the aircraft was seven years old and was previously operated by Ryanair for seven years until being delivered to Ethiopian Airlines. It received its regular maintenance service on December 25, 2009, “and was declared safe and fit to fly,” the airline said.
The aircraft was delivered for service in 2002, Boeing spokeswoman Sandra Angers said in an email to Examiner.com. Its first flight with Ryanair was on January 18, 2001, the website AirFleets.net said. The 737-800 that crashed was one of two being operated by Ethiopian Airlines.
The captain of Flight ET-409 was “was a career flight professional with over 20 years of experience flying various aircraft over the expanded network of the airline,” said Ethiopian Airlines.