An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 is believed to have crashed into the sea after disappearing from radar minutes after its departure from Beirut's Rafik Hariri International Airport. Ethiopian Flight ET 409 left Beirut shortly after 03:00 AM local time, en route to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Early reports say the aircraft had seven crew members and 85 passengers on board. [Correction: Eight crew/82 pax, per Ethiopian Airlines press release.]
Reuters is reporting that "residents on the coast [of Lebanon] saw a plane on fire crashing."
More to follow as information becomes available.
UPDATE: Ethiopian Airlines has issued a press release about the accident, confirming 82 passengers and eight crew members on board Flight ET 409. All eight crew members were Ethiopian nationals. Among the passengers, are 23 Ethiopians, 51 Lebanese, one Turkish, one French, two British, one Russian, one Canadian, one Syrian, and one Iraqi.
The accident aircraft is believed to be ET-ANB, a Boeing 737-800 manufactured in 2002, according to FlightGlobal.com's ACAS data. [per Jon Ostrower, @flightblogger for FlightGlobal.com]
At a press conference, Lebanese Transport Minister Ghazi al-Aridi said that the crash site had been located off the coast of the Lebanese village of Na'ameh, which is south of Beirut. Lebanese military boats and helicopters were said to be searching the area for survivors. Reuters reported that four bodies have been found.
- Update on the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET409 accident off the coast of Lebanon - AircrewBuzz.com, Jan. 25, 2010
- Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 409 flight recorders located - AircrewBuzz.com, Jan. 27, 2010
- Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409 flight data recorder recovered - AircrewBuzz.com, Feb. 7, 2010