Search teams have identified the location of main segments of the Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed off the coast of Lebanon last month killing all 90 people on board, the Lebanese transport minister said. "We have pinpointed the location of the main parts of the plane at a depth of 45 metres under water. This is a very big progress," Ghazi Aridi said. When asked if that constituted the plane's fuselage, Mr Aridi said it was still too early to determine that.
He said the "Ocean Alert" vessel was combing that part of the Mediterranean and taking pictures for search teams to have a better idea of the find. The Boeing 737-800 plane was carrying mostly Lebanese and Ethiopian passengers and was headed to Addis Ababa on January 25. It crashed minutes after taking off from Beirut in stormy weather, plunging in a ball of fire in the sea. Lebanese and international search teams have been scouring the Mediterranean along Beirut's coast to look for the bodies of victims and wreckage of the plane.
The US navy vessel, USS Ramage, located the flight recorders 1,300 metres underwater on January 27 but has yet to retrieve them. The flight recorders should shed light on why the pilot did not respond to a request to change direction even though he acknowledged the control tower's commands. The plane had apparently made a sharp turn before disappearing off the radar. Lebanese officials have said it was too early to draw any conclusion of pilot error.
At least 15 bodies and some body parts have been recovered. The eight-year-old plane last underwent a maintenance check on December 25 and no technical problems were found. *Reuters