Posted by: sean | January 26, 2010

Plane crash in Beirut

Yesterday, an Ethiopian Airlines flight servicing Addis Ababa from Beirut crashed shortly after taking off in bad weather, killing 90 people. I don’t have anything to add to this, except that my thoughts are with all those whose loved ones died.

Although we always hear about crashes like this, this particular one feels closer to home, not only because it happened here in Beirut, but also (selfishly) because I’ve taken this particular flight before when traveling to Addis or continuing on to Nairobi.

UPDATE: Miss T mentions the subtext of this crash: the economic situations that push so many Lebanese to go find fortune throughout Africa and so many Ethiopians to endure horrible lives as indentured servants in Lebanon to try to make the lives of their families a little better. This article from The Guardian especially hits home:

Riad Ismael’s 36-year-old nephew Yasser was among those missing. Like so many in this nation of expatriates, Yasser had left Lebanon soon after graduating, having been unable to find a job. After five years working in a Lebanese restaurant in London he moved to Sudan to pursue his speciality – computer engineering – before starting his own business in Angola. The young father had taken time off to fly home to Lebanon via Ethiopia to visit his wife and two children, aged five and two.

“When we find answers to who is responsible for this crash we have to ask another question: why does the young generation of Lebanese have to live in exile?” said Riad Ismael, the mayor of a village near the south Lebanon town of Nabatiyeh.

“Yasser is like all young guys in Lebanon. , His motives were to build a better future and provide for his family. He was far away from his family and always wanted to return home. He came home to give them money and then died. It is a tragedy.”

Many of the Ethiopians killed in the crash were also economic migrants, but in the reverse direction – young women who left homes and families to travel to Lebanon to work as domestic helpers in the homes of wealthy Lebanese.

Many are treated as little more than slaves, human rights activists claim. In many cases servants go unpaid, are confined indoors and made to work long hours seven days a week. Some are beaten and even sometimes raped.

“Why do you Lebanese never treat us good?” screamed one Ethiopian woman as security forces prevented her from entering the governmental hospital in Beirut today to identify a body. “We are human beings like you. God created us. Why don’t I have the right to come in and see my sister?”

Outside the hospital a group of Ethiopian women stood quietly in a corner, waiting for news of friends on the flight – young women like the friend they knew as Warkey, who arrived in Lebanon to work for a family in Nabatiyeh,

“She had worked for two years and her family had not paid her salary once,” said one of Warkey’s friends, who asked not to be named. “She even had to buy her own clothes. So she ran away and I took her in. But she said she missed her parents so much and had to go home. She was only 20.

“We went to the embassy and they did not help. Because she had run away and did not have any papers, she ended up being arrested and put in prison,” she said, her dark brown eyes welling up with tears.

“They let her out of prison on Saturday and drove her to the airport, so she could take that flight.”



  1. Startling picture. Did you take it?

  2. No, it’s the photo that’s been circulating on Facebook. I’m not actually sure where it’s from originally, which means I likely don’t have the right to use it, but if I come across the source, I’ll be sure to add it…

  3. Thank you, it is good anyway. Such a colorful thing over that beautiful blue, I assumed it to be one of those surfing engines with a sail on top…I only realized what it was when my eyes went looking for the inexistent sailor…

  4. Why the iseralies as our friends and ortohdox give any comment I mean real .. because 3 mile from our old Christian & musilum border. , they response a speed of light. I ask a Jews & Abrham state to use your wisdom to solve this sabotage, which is ……

  5. Thanks for the reply. I am pretty sure Hassan is the brother of Kassim Tajideen, but the Ali is not the same one, but probably a relative.


  6. So what’s your take on the whole thing? I’m inclined to go with Freud who once wrote, “sometimes a plane crash is just a plane crash.”

  7. No, I would think it is just “a pipe,” but I am surprised more people are not looking into this aspect.

    Moreover, I find the whole Africa business interesting on multiple levels.

  8. Yeah, the Africa connection is really fascinating to me, too. I remember chatting with Lebanese on that flight en route to Kinshasa, Goma, Juba, Harare, etc.

    This is also a funny anecdote about Mobutu:

    In 1994, President Mobutu of Zaire organized the smuggling of officially sanctioned counterfeit banknotes via number of his Lebanese business associates … or via Israeli business acquaintances. Fifteen tonnes of new zaire banknotes printed in Europe and fifteen tonnes printed in Argentina were loaded into the security vehicles of the central bank, but without this institution having any control over the process.

  9. Hassan’s brother was designated by Treasury as a terrorism financier last Spring. The announcement states that he and his brothers provide funds to HA. It also rather baldly states that his brother is an HA commander. See:

    Here’s a related report on the Tajideens’ businesses, including diamonds. See:

    Here’s Kassim in Myanmar, doing who knows what business. See:

    Here’s a Greenpeace report on the Tajideens’ logging activities in the Congo (Trans-M Bois);

    Here’s a story about their role as Tyson’s exclusive distributor in Ghana:

    I will post some more when I get a chance.


  10. No 1 know how that happened ! the truth is in the black box nothing else

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