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Bad Weather Suspected In Crash Of Ethiopian Plane Off Lebanon

Soldiers and civilian defense workers collect debris from the Ethiopian Airlines plane.
BEIRUT -- Lebanese authorities say stormy weather is suspected of playing a role in the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane into the Mediterranean minutes after taking off from Beirut.

All 90 passengers and crew who were on board the Boeing 737-800 are feared dead, and officials say at least 24 bodies have been recovered from the sea so far.

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman said he did not think the plane had been brought down deliberately, saying a sabotage attack was unlikely.

Witnesses said the plane, which was bound for Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, fell into the sea in flames within minutes of taking off at 0237 Beirut time on January 25.

Lebanon's transportation minister has identified the passengers as 54 Lebanese, 22 Ethiopians, one Iraqi, one Syrian, one Canadian of Lebanese origin, one Russian of Lebanese origin, a French woman, and two Britons of Lebanese origin.

compiled from agency reports