January 26, 2010

Six Degrees of Separation

Don’t they say that ‘if a person is one step away from each person they know and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people they know, then everyone is at most six steps away from any other person on Earth? ‘ (source)

People on the beach, hoping for survivors to was ashore. Or maybe they're just there to see anything at all.

Because this place is so ‘metropolitan yet small town’, and everybody knows everybody, it seems half of Lebanon was on that plane. A colleague had a cousin on the flight. The cousin of the mother of my daughter’s playmate was on the plane. In the classroom next to hers a boy lost both his grandparents and an uncle and aunt. A friend of the Ethiopian housekeeper in the building next door was on the plane.

Very few bodies have been found so far; which is why the army assumes the plane did not explode at great height; otherwise wreckage and chairs and suitcases and bodies would be strwen all over the place. They assume the plane came down largely intact, and that most people went down in the plane, and with the plane, to the bottom of the sea.

In the army chopper, looking for floating wrechage

And if you do not find bodies, you most definitely will not find survivors, although my colleague asked me to pray for her cousin. Now they’re after the black box. This one is probably at the bottom of the sea, and reports vary that it lies between 150 to a 1,000 meters deep, as it is on a slope. In both cases, that’s too deep for conventional diving, and so a ship with an AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle), the Ocean Alert of Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. has been chartered which is currently searching in the area where they presume the air plane has crashed; an area of some 100 square kilometers.The Ocean Alert looking for signs of the plane underwater

The reason why it is such a large area is because they lost touch of the plane at an altitude of some 9000 feet. Apparently the tower asked the captain, at 3,000 feet, to avoid a storm, and swerve right, upon which the captain replied “roger”, and swerved left. The tower asked the captain again, not to go left, but right, and again the captain replied “roger” and continued going right into the storm instead of out of it. He then suddenly climbed up to 9000 feet, and disappeared. They don’t know why this happened, but assume that a lightning strike may have send the instrumentation of the plane astray. It’s all speculation of course, and nothing will be known until that little black box – which is orange, by the way – is found. The reason why this black box does not send out a signal is unknown. The underwater beacon should, once it hits water, have been activated, but it hasn't.

This black box is somewhere in the rear of the airplane - ‘an area most likely to survive a crash’ – and it records the previous 30 minutes of the flight crew's conversation and radio transmission. I know of an airplane crash in Iraq, which wiped out everyone except a man I know, his wife and his child. They sat in the back as well. I’ll have to make a mental note of that. On the other hand, the back of the plane is also where the toilets are. Maybe ask for a seat in the middle next time.

Flying above Rauche

If you want to hear some of those 'famous last word' conversations on flight recorders; here is a link.


Raffi said...

:) I learned more your article than watching the news.

Sietske said...

Well thank you, Raffi! You always have great compliments! :)

Theo said...

Heb je nou ook in een helicopter gezeten? Jij maakt ook van alles mee! Ik zit in saai Lochem, het is berekoud hier en het sneeuwde zojuist, maar ik hoop snel in Beirut te zijn. Enige ski-kansen?

Sietske said...

Jaja, ik ga zaterdag!

angie nader said...

thanks so much for posting this. its nice to have a more complete story. here in the states we only get the short story.

Anonymous said...


"Walid Noshie, a prominent Lebanese diver"