Zuma sends condolences to Ethiopia

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has conveyed his condolences to the governments and families of the victims of the Ethiopian Airlines crash yesterday.

"On behalf of the Government and the people of South Africa I wish to extend our condolences to the Governments and the people of Ethiopia and Lebanon and the families of the passengers on Ethiopian Airline Flight 409.

"Indeed the people of South Africa share the pain of loss of the loved ones and our hearts and prayers go to the affected families in particular," said President Zuma.

In the early hours of Monday, the Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane crashed into the Mediterranean Sea.

President Jacob Zuma said he wished the Lebanese rescue and recovery team deployed at the scene of the crash every success in their efforts.

To date, at least 33 bodies of the 90 people that were on board the plane have been recovered, according to local media.

The ET409 flight was bound for the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport when it lost contact with Lebanese air controllers shortly after take-off from Beirut.

Meanwhile, rescue teams have collected some wreckage pieces of the plane and moved them to Lebanese Army barracks in order to be sent later to laboratories in foreign countries.

Lebanese Transport Minister Ghazi Aridi said that among the passengers, 57 were Lebanese nationals, three with dual nationalities: British, Canadian and Russian, while others include one Iraqi, one Syrian, and two French nationals who were also on board, while the rest were Ethiopians.

The French embassy in Beirut announced in a statement that the wife of France's ambassador to Lebanon Denis Pietton was among the passengers.