Lebanon News

Hariri promises to defend families of air crash victims

BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri assured the families of the Ethiopian air crash victims on Tuesday that the Lebanese government will not spare an effort to reveal the full truth of the accident and to defend and support the relatives of the victims, Information Minister Tarek Mitri said.

Mitri spoke to reporters following a meeting that Hariri held with the victims of the Ethiopian plane crash at the Grand Serail Tuesday afternoon.

The meeting was attended by Interior Minister Ziyad Baroud, Justice Minister Ibrahim Najjar, Public Works and Transportation Minister Ghazi Al-Aridi, Public Health Minister Mohammad Jawad Khalifeh, State Prosecutor Saeed Mirza, the commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) Jean Kahwaji, Cabinet’s Secretary General Suheil Bawji, Internal Security Forces General Director Major General Ashraf Rifi, head of Higher Relief Committee Major General Yahya Raad, Higher Defense Council Secretary General Major General Saeed Eid, Civil Defense Director-General Brigadier Darwish Hubeika, head of Beirut Fire Department Colonel Muneir Mokhllalati, Head of Lebanese Red Cross Sami Dahdah, Director-General of Rafik Hariri University Hospital Wassim Al-Wazzan, PM Hariri’s advisor Fadi Fawwaz and a number of LAF officers. The meeting observed a minute of silence in commemoration of the victims.

“Three detailed reports were submitted during the meeting, one of which was handed over by the LAF that answers all the questions raised by media in the wake of the accident,” Mitri said. He added that the families of the victims listened to a detailed presentation made by the administration of the Rafik Hariri Universal hospital regarding the duties it performed starting from the first day of the plane crash.

“A number of the victims’ relatives praised efforts made by the government and its agencies in dealing with the accident but raised several questions regarding mistakes committed during managing the tragedy,” Mitri said. He added that the families asked for some clarifications regarding the legal follow-up on the accident. The minister added that Hariri assured families that their concerns will be addressed in Wednesday’s Cabinet session. “The Cabinet will discuss erecting a memorial statue to commemorate the plane’s victims,” Mitri added.

Asked about rumors attributing the plane crash to a pilot error, Mitri said that this issue required clarification.

When asked for reasons that search parties spent 14 days looking in a location that turned out to be far away from the crash area, Mitri attributed this to the fact that search teams were distracted by signals they erroneously thought had come from the black box.

Flight ET 409 crashed into the sea minutes after taking off from Rafik Hariri International airport amid a violent thunderstorm in the early hours of January 25.

All 90 people aboard the plane were killed.

Chicago-based Ribbeck Law has begun multi-million dollar proceedings against plane manufacturer Boeing on behalf of the relatives of the flight victims.

Prior to the meeting, Premier Hariri received a detailed report on the victims of the Ethiopian plane crash, the Central News Agency (CNA) reported Tuesday.

The CNA added that Hariri will announce a national mourning day in solidarity with the families of the flight’s victims.





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