Sunday, August 14, 2005

My heart breaks for these families

As I read this article this morning it was hard to get through it for all the pain that it represents. I cannot imagine what this would be like and as a mother, all the more. Let us pray for these families for the peace that passes all understanding and may God be real to them today.


From Foxnews today:


48 Children Among Dead in Jet Crash
Sunday, August 14, 2005


GRAMMATIKO, Greece  — A Cypriot plane crashed into a hill north of Athens (search) on Sunday, killing all 121 people aboard — a third of them children — in Greece's deadliest airline disaster. At least one of the pilots was unconscious when the plane went down, apparently from lack of oxygen.


The Helios Airways flight ZU522 was headed from Larnaca, Cyprus (search), to Athens International Airport when it crashed at 12:05 p.m. near the town of Grammatiko, about 25 miles north of the Greek capital, leaving flaming debris and luggage strewn across a ravine and surrounding hills.


The Boeing 737 (search), carrying 115 passengers and six crew, was to have flown onto Prague, Czech Republic, after stopping in Athens. There were 48 children on board, most of them Greek Cypriots, Helios spokesman Giorgos Dimitriou told reporters at Athens airport.


The cause of the crash was unclear, but it looked like a technical problem — possibly decompression — and not terrorism. "The first indications, in Cyprus and in Greece, are that it was not caused by a terrorist act," said Marios Karoyian, a spokesman for Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos.


Family members wept in anguish as they waited at the Athens and Larnaca airports. When news of the crash emerged at Larnaca, relatives swarmed the airline counters, shouting "murderers" and "you deserve lynching." One woman, Artemis Charalambous, said she was the mother of one of the pilots.


A man whose cousin was a passenger on the plane told Greece's Alpha television he received a cell-phone text message minutes before the crash. "He told me the pilots were unconscious. ... He said: "Farewell, cousin, here we're frozen," Sotiris Voutas said.


The head of the Greek airline safety committee, Akrivos Tsolakis, described the crash as the "worst accident we've ever had." He said the plane's black boxes had been discovered at the scene, containing flight data and voice recordings valuable for determining the cause.


"There apparently was a lack of oxygen, which is usually the case when the cabin is depressurized," Tsolakis said.


The plane lost contact with Greek and Cypriot air traffic control 23 minutes after takeoff. Two F-16 fighter jets were dispatched shortly after the plane entered Greek air space over the Aegean Sea and did not respond to radio calls — a standard Greek practice.


When they intercepted the plane, the jet pilots could see the co-pilot slumped over his seat. The captain was not in the cockpit, and oxygen masks were dangling inside the cabin, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said.


He said the jet pilots also saw two people apparently trying to take control of the plane, but it was unclear if they were members of the crew or passengers.

(The rest of the story.)


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