Mitri says investigations into airliner crash are ongoing

Information Minister Tarek Mitri briefed the press Monday on the emergency session of the cabinet convened to discuss the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409. He announced that so far the investigations have not yielded any results, but once they are available they would be announced.

The airliner plunged into the Mediterranean Sea amid stormy weather minutes after takeoff from Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport Monday morning.

“So far, there is no evidence at all that intentional sabotage led to the crash,” Mitri added.

In response to accusations that the airliner should not have been allowed to take off in the bad weather conditions, Mitri countered that “many other airplanes took off at the same time.”

He offered further information on the crash, saying contact was lost with the airport minutes after it took off.

“The conversation between the captain of the airplane and the air-traffic control tower was recorded,” Mitri added.

On the issue of recovering bodies, Mitri said that 14 bodies have been recovered and transported to Rafik Hariri University Hospital for identification.

Mitri also explained how the government responded to the crisis. “Immediately, the security forces in collaboration with UNIFIL launched the search and rescue operations despite the bad weather conditions.”

Following up on this, Mitri said, “The government contacted many states. Cyprus and Britain were cooperative and offered support.”

“As of now, UNIFIL, Turkish, German and US cruisers are coordinating with the LAF in the search operations,” he added.

Mitri also offered his condolences to the families of the victims, adding that the government declared Monday a national day of mourning.  

-NOW Lebanon