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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-08-14

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Cypriot passenger jet crashes northeast of Athens

  • [01] Cypriot passenger jet crashes northeast of Athens

    A Cypriot airliner crashed northeast of Athens on Sunday carrying 115 passengers and a six-member crew. No survivors have been reported, authorities said.

    The Boeing 737 operated by Cyprus-based Helios Airways fell shortly after noon in an unhabited area northeast of the capital a few minutes before its scheduled landing time on a flight from Larnaca to Prague via Athens.

    Crew notified Cypriot authorities of a fault in the aircraft's air conditioning unit on approaching Greek airspace, but made no contact with Greek air traffic controllers on entry, according to sources.

    Greek civil aviation authorities alerted the air force in line with anti-terrorism measures.

    Two F-16 fighter jets sent from a military base in Crete located the aircraft a few minutes later in the southern Aegean, but calls for identification went unheeded and the plane appeared to be out of control, the sources said.

    Flying at close quarters, air force officers reported that the aircraft's co-pilot appeared to have collapsed over his controls but no captain was visible through the cockpit window. Overhead oxygen masks in the cabin section had dropped into place.

    After reporting the aircraft as "renegade", or unidentified, the pilots tracked the airliner at about 38,000 feet until it began to lose height and crashed in Grammatikos, a hilly area near Athens international airport, sparking a blaze.

    Firefighters and rescue workers sped to the wreckage as military helicopters patrolled overhead.

    Charred bodies were scattered amid the broken parts of the plane spread over a wide radius, emergency teams said.

    In Cyprus, the managing director of Helios Airways, Dimitris Pantazis, declined to say whether the aircraft had shown technical problems in the past, but said that experts from the Boeing corporation, which manufactured the plane, would travel to Athens to help with enquiries.

    The flight's passenger list would be given to police, Pantazis added.

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, who cut short a long holiday weekend on the island of Tinos, has maintained close contact with the defence minister and other authorites involved in the aftermath.

    Karamanlis, who called a mini-cabinet meeting for 16:00 hours local time, conferred by telephone with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, who welcomed the response by Greek emergency services.

    "The most likely thing is that a technical fault was involved, but we are looking into all possible causes and details. It would not be responsible to say anything yet about the cause of the descent," government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos told reporters.

    Media reported that passengers aboard the flight had sent text messages to relatives complaining of an "Artic chill" in the cabin with people starting to turn blue from the cold.

    In Nicosia, the president's spokesman, Marios Karogian said that terrorism had been ruled out in the incident on the basis of information received from Athens.

    Nicosia has sent a crisis management team to its embassy in Athens.

    Also returning to Athens were the leader of the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement, George Papandreou; and the head of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology, Alekos Alavanos.

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