01/25/2010, 00.00
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Ethiopian plane crashes into the sea after taking off from Beirut

There were 92 people on board, 83 passengers and 9 crew members. It is unknown if there are survivors. Lebanese Air Force and Navy, as well as the UNIFIL forces, rush to disaster zone. Causes appear related to bad weather.

Beirut (AsiaNews / Agencies) - An Ethiopian Airlines plane with 92 people on board, after engine failure and a fire crash landed in the Mediterranean, just minutes after takeoff from Beirut, at 2 am (local time).  

According to witnesses, before crashing, the plane caught fire. The accident occurred 3.5 kilometres from the coast. The control tower, which was helping the pilot, lost contact at some point.

 According to airport authorities, there were 83 passengers and 9 crew members on board. The aircraft is a Boeing 737-800, with a capacity of 189 passengers.    

Ghazi Aridi, Lebanon's Minister for Transport, said there were 54 Lebanese, 22 Ethiopians, an Iraqi, a Syrian, a Canadian of Lebanese origin, a Russian, of Lebanese origin, one French and two British of Lebanese origin.  

Bad weather is believed to have been the main cause of the disaster. There was a heavy rain and lightning all day yesterday in Beirut. Aridi said it had formed a committee to determine the cause of the accident and has requested assistance of neighbouring countries for help in search and recovery of survivors and victims. The Lebanese Air Force and Navy as well as UNIFIL forces have rushed to the disaster site. It is unclear whether there are survivors.

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