Ethiopian Airline flight ET409 destined for Addis Ababa with 90 people on board crashed into the Mediterranean Monday shortly after taking off from Beirut, Lebanon.
The plane took off from Beirut around 2:35 a.m. local time in what was reported to be a stormy weather. Ethiopian Airlines CEO Girma Wake told reporters "the plane was lost from radar a few minutes after takeoff". Later, Girma confirmed the plane had crashed into the sea just two kilometers outside Beirut. He also added that the aircraft "had no technical problems at all".
Girma said 82 passengers and eight crew members were on the Boeing 737 manufactured in 2002. Officials say there were 51 Lebanese nationals onboard, 23 Ethiopians (including crew), two British and six other passengers from other countries.
Witnesses on the coast reported seeing a ball of fire as the plane plunged into the sea. Lebanon's President Michel Suleiman said there was no indication terrorism caused the crash. Officials say it was likely weather related.
The crash took place amid heavy rains and storms in Lebanon.
Lebanese officials have launched a search and rescue operation for possible survivors. Scores of bodies have been recovered.
Officials say Marla Pietton, the wife of France's ambassador to Lebanon, Denis Pietton, was among the passengers on the ill-fated flight.