January 25: In the first major airline incident of 2010, an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 has crashed into the Mediterranean Sea with the loss of all passengers and crew.
Aviation Safety Network reports that the aircraft had just taken off from Beirut’s International Airport in Lebanon at 0200 local time during a thunderstorm bound for Addis Ababa-Bole Airport in Ethiopia but crashed into the Mediterranean Sea a few minutes later. According to the BBC, eyewitnesses saw a “ball of fire” before the aircraft hit the sea.
Ninety people were on board the 737 and ASN reports that 24 bodies have so far been found by Lebanese search teams.
The crash comes just days after Ethiopian Airlines announced it is to buy ten Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft in an estimated $767 million deal with deliveries scheduled to begin in November 2011.
Ethiopian already operated five leased examples of the 737-800, and the aircraft involved in the crash is reported as 737-800 ET-ANB, first flown in 2002 and taken on charge with Ethiopian in September 2009.