President Michel Sleiman held a press conference following Monday’s crash of an Ethiopian airliner. The plane was transporting 90 passengers and crew, including 54 Lebanese, and went down just after takeoff from Beirut around 2:30 a.m. local time.
Defense Minister Elias al-Murr and Lebanese Army Commander Jean Kahwaji briefed the president on the details of the search and rescue mission.
Sleiman ruled out the possibility of sabotage and called on people to wait for the investigation results to find out more. The ministers of Health, Interior, and Transportation and Public Works are coordinating their efforts, he said.
He said that a Lebanese committee was formed to investigate the crash, adding that French experts are also helping.
Sleiman noted that the search and rescue effort is being made difficult because of bad weather conditions, however, he said that the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and Internal Security Forces (ISF) remain dedicated to rescuing as many as possible.
The president also thanked UNIFIL for helping the Lebanese government in the search operation. The Lebanese Navy, local rescue and relief units, the Red Cross and the ISF are remaining alert, said Sleiman.
“[The victims’ families] are arriving at the airport and asking about their relatives, who might have been on the airliner. They have been well-received, and we have updated them with all the information we have,” said Sleiman.
“This is a tragedy for the people and the government, and our hearts go out to the relatives of the victims,” he added.