Hotspots and Incidents » Disasters, catastrophes
Author`s name Ольга Савка

About 120 freeze to death on board crashing Boeing 737 in Greece

Pilots of two F-16 fighters noticed unauthorized individuals in Boeing's cockpit

A terrible accident happened near Athens. Airliner Boeing-737-800 owned by the Cyprian Helios Airlines crashed not far from the Greek capital. The plane was on its flight from Cyprian town of Larnaca to Prague via Athens. The accident happened most likely because of technical faults. However, there were two unauthorized persons spotted in the cockpit. The accident took place near the town of Kalamos, close to the Aegean Sea at 12.20 local time, when the plane crashed into a mountain. Before that the hull had been depressurized at the height of 11 km. According to preliminary data all passengers died of chill.

The fire at the scene of the air crash could not be extinguished for several hours because of the great amount of fuel. The first version was that the plane had been seized by terrorists. However, it was not proved. At the moment two versions are considered: technical faults and bad health of the pilot who lost control of the plane, AP reports.
  
Later witnesses told the Athenian radio that the plane had been accompanied by two F-16 fighters. One of the military pilots said that the plane's pilot was absent shortly before the crash. Then he added that there were two unauthorized persons in the cockpit. It is reported that all the oxygen masks were pulled out. One of the passengers' relative told about a text message, which proves that the passengers had known their fate before the crash.

112 passengers killed in mysterious crash of Boeing 737 jetliner in Greece - Photo gallery
 
According to the Cyprus flight service, the crew reported faults in the conditioning systeman half an hour after the takeoff from Larnaca. At the same time the minister of transport of Cyprus told the state television of Greece that the plane had undergone the inspection last week and no faults had been found, although it had some faultiness before.

The majority of the dead passengers had Greek names. However, the number of Greek citizens and Cypriotes who died in the crash is not certain yet. Besides, there were citizens from other counties on board the plane. There were many children among the victims of the air crash. Check Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek mentioned 80 children. However, at this moment it is only certain that there were at least 48 children on board the plane.

Relatives of victims will be taken to Athens by special flights. They will be accommodated at the hotel near Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos, where they will be provided with the service of psychologists. Identification of the dead will take place on Monday. Then the decoding of flight recorders will start. Three days of mourning are announced in Cyprus and one day in Greece. The leaders of the two countries interrupted their vacations.

It is significant that this is not the first serious crash in the Greek sky. 17 December 1997 a Ukrainian plane that was flying from Kiev to Athens crashed into a mountain not far from the city of Thessaloniki. At that time all of the 66 passengers and 8 members of the crew were killed. Four airline operators were found guilty and were sentenced to four years.   

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