Lebanese president rules out sabotage in Ethiopian plane crash

17:20, January 25, 2010      

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Lebanese President Michel Suleiman said Monday that authorities have ruled out sabotage as the cause for a crash of an Ethiopian jet with at least 90 people on board.

"Up until now we have ruled out foul play," Suleiman was quoted by Lebanese media as speaking at a press conference.

Ethiopian Airlines earlier confirmed that the plane carrying 82 passengers and eight crew members fell into the Mediterranean sea shortly after taking off from Lebanon's capital Beirut early Monday.

Lebanon's Public Works and Transport Minister Ghazi Aridi told local television that bad weather conditions are probably the main reason for the crash as the Ethiopian airliner was flying in storms.

A Lebanese committee was set up to investigate the crash, he said, adding that the committee will cooperate with a French team to uncover the details of the disaster.

He said the Lebanese Armed Forces and the UN maritime task force serving off the Lebanese coast were taking part in the search-and-rescue operation.

Meanwhile, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri declared Monday a national day of mourning for the victims of the Ethiopian plane crash.

The Boeing 737-800 passenger plane crashed into the sea minutes after it left the Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut at 2:35 a.m. local time (0035 GMT), said the Ethiopian Airlines.

The ET409 flight, which was bound for the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, carried 51 Lebanese nationals, 24 Ethiopians and other nationals, it said in a statement.

Source: Xinhua
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