The Scotsman reports:

The Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 had just left Beirut in Lebanon for the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa when it burst into a “ball of fire” and plunged into the Mediterranean.

There were two Britons among the 83 passengers on board. One of them was named as haulage firm owner Afif Krisht, 56, who had dual British-Lebanese nationality, and whose former wife lives in Plymouth.

Flight ET-409 crashed into the sea two miles offshore. It disappeared from radar screens five minutes after taking off at 2:37am (12:37am British time).

The Lebanese army said it had broken up in the air. Witnesses described the impact as a “flash that lit up the whole sea”.

Lebanese authorities quickly ruled out terrorism, and weather is thought to have played a part in the crash, which happened amid thunder, lightning and heavy rain. Beirut airport officials said the aircraft had been struck by lightning and there were reports the crew requested a change of direction to avoid the thunderstorm after reaching 8,000ft.

Lebanese defence minister Elias el-Murr said there was no evidence of a terrorist attack and that the weather was “in principle” to blame for the crash.

President Michel Suleiman ruled out sabotage “as of now”, while transport minister Ghazi Aridi said: “The weather undoubtedly was very bad.”

My first reaction was to believe that it was a “normal” accident. But a Boeing 737-800 is a very modern aircraft and the airline has a good safety record. Lightning doesn’t kill such aircraft. An aircraft is basically a Faraday cage and virtually immune to lightning strikes. So, what could cause a “ball of fire” and a “flash that lit up the whole sea”? I’d bet a dollar to a donut that Muslim terrorists planted a bomb on that aircraft. Why? Ethiopia is a Christian country at war with radical Islam.

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