An Ethiopian Airlines ... plane with 85 passengers on board crashed into the Mediterranean sea shortly after taking off from Beirut international airport in the early hours of Monday, airport sources said. The plane, said to be a Boeing ... 737 by one source, disappeared off the radar some five minutes after takeoff.ON FIRE BEFORE HITTING THE SEA!?!?
About 50 passengers were Lebanese nationals, most of the others were Ethiopians, the sources said. There were thought to be seven crew members.
The plane took off shortly after its scheduled time of 3:10 a.m. (0010 GMT), flying south-west, the sources said.
Ethiopian Airlines' website shows it has a flight from Beirut to the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa around that time, operating a Boeing 737. The airline could not immediately be reached for comment.
According to one source, residents on the coast saw a plane on fire crashing.
THAT SOUNDS LIKE SOMEBODY'S UNDERPANTS EXPLODED TO ME. ON TAKE OFF. WITH LOADS OF FUEL IN THE FUEL TANKS.
UPDATE: A LITTLE MORE HERE - IT REITERATES THE FACT THAT WITNESSES CLAIM IT WAS ON FIRE AS IT CRASHED.
*******UPDATE #2 (11PM EST): AL ARABIYA:
"Ethiopian Airline Flight 409 crashed about five minutes after takeoff at 2:30 am (1230 GMT)," an airport official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
He said witnesses saw a ball of fire as the jet plunged into the sea.
"The plane had disappeared from the radar screens only five minutes after takeoff," he said.
IT WAS O FIRE BEFORE IT HIT THE SEA - PROBABLY CRASHING AS A RESULT OF WHAT CAUSED THE FIRE.
IMO: PROBABLY AN ISLAMO-TERRORIST ATTACK.
Update #3: REUTERS VIDEO:
UPDATE # 4 &5:
The Lebanese army said the plane had broken up in the air before plummeting into rough seas. Witnesses described the impact as a "flash that lit up the whole sea" and a "ball of fire".HUHHHHH, IT JUST BROKE UP IN MID AIR BUT THERE WAS NO "PRE-MEDITATED MAN-MADE" REASON FOR THIS!?!? HOW DOES HE KNOW THAT!?
Lebanese President Michel Suleiman said he did not think the plane had been brought down deliberately, emphasising "a sabotage attack is unlikely".
Defence Minister Elias el-Murr also said there was no evidence of a terrorist attack and that weather was "in principle" to blame for the crash.
"We saw fire falling down from the sky into the sea," said Khaled Naser, a gas station attendant who saw the plane go down around 2:30 a.m., crashing into the frigid waters of the Mediterranean that had reached just 64 degrees (18 degrees Celsius) by Monday afternoon.