26 Jan 2010

Bodies recovered from crashed plane

8:45 am on 26 January 2010

At least 24 bodies of people killed in the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane off Beirut have been pulled from the sea.

Flight ET409 bound for Addis Ababa burst into flames and crashed into the Mediterranean shortly after take-off from Beirut airport in stormy weather.

The plane disappeared from radar screens some five minutes after take-off in stormy weather at 02.37am (local time) on Monday, near the village of Naameh, about 3.5km from the coast.

Rescuers are continuing to search for bodies and wreckage, but officials say it is very unlikely that any of the 90 people on board will be found alive.

Defence Minister Elias Murr said "bad weather was apparently the cause of the crash".

Most of the people on board were Lebanese or Ethiopian. Others were from Turkey, France, Russia, Canada, Syria and Iraq.

In a statement on its website, Ethiopian Airlines said the wife of the French ambassador in Beirut, Marla Pietton was among them.