Beirut: An Ethiopian airliner that crashed into the sea off Lebanon failed to follow instructions from a flight control tower for unknown reasons, Lebanon's Defence Minister said.
"A command tower recording shows the tower told the pilot to turn to avoid the storm, but the plane went in the opposite direction," Defence Minister Elias Murr said in a television interview yesterday.
"We do not know what happened or whether it was beyond the pilot's control," he added.
Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409 lost contact with Beirut airport shortly after takeoff at 02:37 am (0607 IST) and crashed into the Mediterranean 2.5 nautical miles from the town of Naameh, south of the airport, in stormy weather.
So far rescuers have failed to find any survivors from the 90 people on board, and Murr said the official death toll would be limited to bodies delivered to the state hospital in
Red Cross volunteers yesterday transported 14 bodies and some body parts to the Rafik Hariri state hospital.
Murr's statements came after Prime Minister Saad Hariri chaired an emergency meeting with officials including Murr, Health Minister Mohammed Jawad Khalifeh, Army Commander Jean Kahwaji and police chief Ashraf Rifi.
First Published: Tuesday, January 26, 2010, 16:02