Beirut: The Ethiopian airliner that crashed off the coast of Lebanon was on fire before it plummeted into the Mediterranean Sea with no known survivors.
According to Lebanese officials, the aircraft disappeared from radar screens five minutes after taking off from Beirut`s Rafik Hariri International Airport.
Lebanese government officials were quick to rule out terrorism, but confirmed witness accounts of a "ball of fire" falling into the sea, reports The Telegraph.
Lebanese Army officials said the aircraft, a Boeing 737-800 bound for Addis Ababa, caught fire shortly after take off and broke into at least four pieces before impact.
Last night, Lebanese authorities signalled that hopes of finding any survivors had all but vanished.
Elias Murr, the country`s Defence Minister, said that weather conditions were most likely to blame for the disaster.