Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 crashes near Beirut

An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800, performing flight ET-409 from Beirut, Lebanon to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa crashed in to the Mediterranean Sea about 2nm (3.55 km) off the coast of Naameh soon after take-off around 02:35 (00:35Z).

View ET-409 crash site in a larger map

The aircraft with 82 passengers and 8 crew, was reportedly struck by multiple bolts of lightning, lost height and impacted sea.

News reports indicate that seven survivors have been rescued, while search and recovery efforts are ongoing.

METARS indicate that thunderstorms were in the vicinity of the airport and officials have indicated to news channels that the aircraft took off in stormy weather.

OLBA 250000Z 31008KT 280V340 8000 VCTS FEW020CB SCT026 13/06 Q1014 NOSIG
[00:00 UTC; wind 310 degrees at 8 knots, variable from 280° to 340°; visibility 8km; thunderstorms in the vicinity; few clouds with cumulonimbus at 2,000 ft; scattered clouds at 2,600 ft; temperature 13 degrees C, dew point 6 degrees C, pressure 1014 hPa]

Unlike most African airlines, Ethiopian Airlines has a relatively good flight safety history. It lost one of its Boeing 767s in a 1996 hijacking attempt, when the hijacker forced the plane to run out of fuel and crash into the sea.

In September 1988, it lost a Boeing 737 soon after takeoff at Bahar Dar, Ethiopia, after the plane suffered multiple bird hits. One engine was lost immediately and the second lost power when the plane returned to the airport, where it made a crash landing.

The airline is gearing up in the wake of the crash. Ethiopian Airlines has formed an emergency command center. Information can be obtained by calling +251 11 517 8766 or +251 91 150 1248 or +251 91 125 5577 or +251 91 120 3412 or +251 11 662 0062.

An investigative team from Beirut has already arrived at the scene. A team comprising of 14 people from Ethiopian’s Safety & Emergency Response department, Medical Unit, Flight Operations, Maintenance & Engineering, the Ethiopian Civil Aviation and Ethiopian’s Chief Airline Security office have departed for Beirut.

The airline’s CEO, Ato Girma Wake also reported that a team of Aircraft Accident Handling and Crisis Management experts will be traveling to Beirut from London. The team consisting of eight people from BLAKE Emergency services is proceeding from London to Beirut today to assist with the rescue mission and establish a family assistance center to help the families. BLAKE Emergency Services can be contacted at +27 11 6352000.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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