Habte Banti Nagassa, an Oromo, is said to be the pilot of the Ethiopian Airliner that went down immediately after take off from Beirut International Airport. Habte is also identified as a brother of the late Yigezu Banti. Twenty-four hours after the deadly crash, some 30 victims were pulled out of the frigid water. Both Ethiopia and Beirut have declared January 25, 2010 National Day of Mourning.
In the hope of miracles, relatives of those aboard the Airliner are said to be patiently waiting for news at the Airport’s VIP lounge. Among those recovered in the search so far are wife of French Ambassador to Lebanon and a British Citizen en-route to Angola.
Update 1: The reasons for the crash can only be fully known when the black box is located. However, Lebanese officials have suggested that the pilot ignored instructions from the Control Tower and went in different direction following take off. The Lebanese Defense minister cautioned, there is little known whether the pilot decided to rely on the plane’s weather radar or if it was beyond his control. At this point, all the 90 passengers aboard the plane are feared dead.
Update 2 : Tadias Magazine citing the Lebanese Daily Star published the names of passengers aboard the doomed Ethiopian Airliner. We republish the partial list of those names here. In what many believe would solve the mystery in the cause of the tragic accident, the United States force is said to have discovered the Black Box 500 meters under the body of the water near the crash site. At this point, the number of bodies recovered stands at 32.
Here are the names of passengers aboard flight 409:
1) Addis Abera Demise (Ethiopia)
2) Bahrnesh Megersa (Ethiopia)
3) Kidist Wolde Mariam (Ethiopia)
4) Elisabeth Tilhum Habtermariam (Ethiopia)
5) Rahel Tadese (Ethiopia)
6) Etenesh Admasie (Ethiopia)
7) Woinshet Meugistu Melaku (Ethiopia)
8 Azeb Betre Kebede (Ethiopia)
9) Tigist Shikur Hajana (Ethiopia)
10) Hani Gebre Gembezo (Ethiopia)
11) Alunesh Tkele (Ethiopia)
12) Shitu Nuri (Ethiopia)
13) Selam Zigdaya (Ethiopia)
14) Yikma Mohamed (Ethiopia)
15) Seble Agezc (Ethiopia)
16) Aynalem Tessema (Ethiopia)
17) Eyerus Alem Desta (Ethiopia)
18) Mekiya Sirur (Ethiopia)
19) Lakesh Zeleke (Ethiopia)
20) Tigist Anura (Ethiopia)
21) Askalesh Soboka (Ethiopia)
22) Meselu Beshah (Ethiopia)
23) Kevin Graingur (UK)
24) Marla Sanchez Pietton (France)
25) Akram Jassem Mohammad (Iraq)
Update 3: Patrick Galey, a Beirut based reporter writes a moving piece on the mistreatment of Ethiopian mourners in Lebanon. He points out some of the regrettable headlines in Lebanese media as to what caused the crash and how Ethiopians in Lebanon – mostly domestic workers – are being kept at bay even at this point of grief. Here is Galey’s full article Flight ET409 Exposes Lebanon’s Racist Underbelly.
- Ethiopian Airlines plane veered off course before crash that killed 90 – The Guardian
- Ethiopian jet crash deaths rise as 90 feared dead Newsday
- Search teams comb Lebanese coast following Ethiopian Airlines plane crash CNN
Ethiopian Airliner Crashes Near Beirut New York Times