TERRORISM? Ethiopian passenger plane crashes into sea after takeoff from Beirut

An Ethiopian Airlines passenger airplane crashed into the Mediterranean Sea after shortly taking off from Beirut Airport. Witnesses reportedly saw the plane on fire. At least 85 people were on board.

REUTERS – An Ethiopian Airlines plane with 85 passengers and 5 crew on board crashed into the Mediterranean sea shortly after taking off from Beirut international airport in the early hours of Monday, airport sources said. The plane, said to be a Boeing 737 by one source, disappeared off the radar some five minutes after takeoff.

About 50 passengers were Lebanese nationals, most of the others were Ethiopians, the sources said. There were thought to be seven crew members. The plane took off shortly after its scheduled time of 3:10 a.m. (0010 GMT), flying south-west, the sources said.

Ethiopian Airlines’ website shows it has a flight from Beirut to the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa around that time, operating a Boeing 737. The airline could not immediately be reached for comment.

According to one source, residents on the coast saw a plane on fire crashing.

Senior Lebanese officials headed to Rafik Hariri International Airport after news of the crash. The plane had flown in from Addis Ababa earlier in the night, the sources said. FRANCE.24

Of course, ABC NEWS is quick to say, The cause was not immediately known. But police ruled out terrorism and said the crash was likely weather-related. Beirut has seen heavy rain and lightning since Sunday.

UPDATE: The plane exploded in a fireball before it crashed into the sea. Sure sounds like a “weather incident” to me.