January 25, 2010

Flight 409

The sea is beautifully colored this afternoon. Shades of blue, green, aquamarine and turquoise all the way to the horizon. The sea is often that pretty after a storm. And it has been stormy for the past two days, complete with heavy thunder and lighting.

And so a plane went down early morning. Into that sea, a little south of Beirut. They don’t know yet what brought down Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409 at 2:30 A.M., but some reports surface that people saw a ball of fire going down. I thought planes were built to withstand lightning strikes, but that seems to be incorrect.

And now everyone is standing there, looking at the sea. 82 passengers and 8 crew members are missing. Parts of the passenger list has been released. 51 are Lebanese; Many African countries have thriving Lebanese business communities. 23 Ethiopians, a lot of them probably domestic helpers who were on their way home after a two-years stint in Beirut. They hadn’t seen their family in some two years, and that farewell two years ago turned out to be their last one as well. Some other nationals as well. Two Britons, and it seems the wife of the French ambassador was on board. Some people have been retrieved, but it doesn’t look like we are going to find any survivors.

You probably wouldn’t think so, as we’re always in the enws for one type of disaster or another, but airplane crashes are very rare in Lebanon. The last one was in 1975, flight 204 from the Hungarian Malev, with 60 people on board. That one also fell in the sea as it was flying in during the night. But since then, no commercial flights crashed in Lebanon. A ship sank last month though, off the coast of Tripoli, also in heavy weather.

As a result parliament, cancelled its session and schools and ministries closed early today.

The black box of the Malev flight was never retrieved, but circumstances were slightly different then. Hubbie was asked to dive on this one. We’ll see what happens.


Anonymous said...

What a tragedy. I've flown that route many times and will be doing so again in a few short weeks. My heart go out to all those who are grieving now, and thanks to the rescuers who have such a difficult and painful task.

Francine said...

Obviously this tragedy stirrs a lot. Thanks for the link to the Malev.