Ethiopian Plane Crash in Beirut, A Commentary

You could feel something was not right. It’s like the times when explosions used to pop up here and there, or some politician got assassinated. This time though, it was totally different.

90 people lost their lives in a matter of seconds. I would like to take this chance to send my heart out to all the victims’ families and all the Lebanese and Ethiopians hurt by the tragedy.

Despite the depth of the wound, the Lebanese authority’s reaction to it was tantamount to the tragedy itself.

In as many minutes it took for the plane to crash, virtually all the Lebanese government arrived to the Beirut International Airport. The prime minister, followed shortly by the speaker of parliament, and eventually the president all made their way down to the Prestige Terminals. Of course, dozens of other members of parliament and government ministers also showed up, to name a couple, the minister of transportation and the minister of interior affairs.

Amazing… Instead of trying to coordinate rescue efforts in the critical few hours after any disaster, the PM, SoP, the President accompanied by half of the Lebanese government felt it was their duty to lend a shoulder to cry on to the mothers present their, whom I am certain were wondering where their children were, not who to vote for come 3 years from now.

I’m being too harsh you say? It was an emotional time and it was the nice thing to do? Rubbish! We did not vote for politicians to console us and pretend to be doing something. We voted for them so they work, so we see results.

Other nations swept into action before ours did. Nations, both involved, such as Britain and the US, and not directly involved in any way, such as Cyprus immediately dispatched what resources they could to support the Lebanese Army, Civil Defense and Fire Department, who did a magnificently professional job (unlike the leaders of this tiny nation).

Lebanon has no real crisis plan in place, nor a specialized body to handle situations such as that of a plane crash. However, the Lebanese Army, Civil Defense, Fire Department and of course the Lebanese Red Cross did the best job possible with the resources available and by coordinating with the friendly nations which generously rushed to help, for strictly humanitarian reasons for all you conspiracy theorists.

Let’s break it down in points

Let’s start with the big three. They went down, all of them. It was pathetic, like children fighting over a parent’s love. The right thing to do was delegate one of them to listen to the people’s concern and make sure they are treated properly and informed accordingly. Instead, they went down and crowded each other, and the grieving people for that matter. If I were one of those parents, and one of the bodyguards was pushing me away, I would have assassinated the hell out of all three.

To make matters worse, the dream team went aboard a helicopter, which was supposed to be on a rescue mission, and did a field trip over random places in the sea. Thanks a lot guys, you won lots of political points for the ‘headphone-concerned-look-out-of-a-helicopter-window’ that you can definitely use in the future.

Point number two, the Minister of Health, whom I admire greatly, made several unacceptable mistakes. The first was an insensitive one, a mistake repeated time and time again. When pieces of victims arrive to the governmental hospital, it is inappropriate to parade in front of the media, and explicitly explain in detail ‘we are not sure if the pieces belong to one person or many, so, wait a bit’. Put yourself in a victim’s family’s place. It would tear me apart to listen such explicit details so cold-bloodedly told. You say I am not an advocate of sensitivity because I slammed the big three for lending a shoulder to cry on (defended by bodyguards), but such forensic information is no one’s business but the authorities. Such classified information is not the kind you feed the media everyday as a responsible minister who respects his institution, himself, and the victims’ families

The other major mishap by the minister of health was when he argued he could not ‘do 90 DNA tests for each body part’. Mr. minister, as a biology major, and CSI enthusiast, you just do the 90 tests once to create a DNA library of the families, which you then compare to each new piece of DNA.

Unprofessionalism at its best…

The Minister of Public Works and Transportation also made me sick. Time and again, a senior official in Lebanon would make a statement. Minutes later the minister would contradict it. “The search will go on through the night” the minister says, when those whose profession it is to do rescue missions and salvage works recommended they stop given the horrible conditions. I know the minister wants seem as though he is exhausting all resources, but with all due respect, it is not he risking his life for others.

Another point is that this guy is the Transport minister. Instead of being preoccupied with rescue mission schedules and family matters, he should be focused on finding out what happened and whose fault it is, if it was a human error.

How exquisitely infantile and unprofessional

Unfortunately, even some in the noble profession of medicine were outright stupid and novices to this situation. The doctor appointed by the government, on the 3rd night after the incident, was busy calling Lebanese talkshows and whining how we don’t have a library with all of Lebanon’s DNA. How stupid can you get? The resources and time we need to put in to create a DNA database of all the Lebanese would be infinite. The usefulness of this database would last only a couple of generations at best. And no nation on Earth even ventures into thinking about this, except maybe creating these databases for its armed servicemen who are in wars and are at risk of being mutilated beyond recognition the most.

Now we come to the people aspect of this horrible tragedy. The conspiracy theories…

Even though the authorities stupidly ruled out foul-play without a single shred of evidence to support that, the Lebanese people had a vivid imagination, which I would say was bordering on paranoid schizophrenia (refer to the post a few days earlier)

I will tell you one theory I heard while in Malek el Tawouk on Bliss. The men there were convinced the US shot down the plane so it could get close to the Southern Suburb and had sent their destroyer to spy on Hizbullah and recover the blackbox, which they would steal to conceal the matter. Come oooon! It’s 2010, no one needs to get that close to spy on someone or something!

It’s nice to be wary of a hostile relationship between some local parties and Western nations, but this is just sad. The minister of interior did his job very well, and said he didn’t care about the party helping us search and recover, he cares about recovering those poor souls still at sea. Conspiracies like that cannot be kept secret these days, we have the internet and plenty of people who stand to gain from the fall of the big nations, who would not hesitate to share such information with the world…

In my opinion, it is an insult to the victims’ memory to suggest they were merely a tool for Western nations to militarily approach political parties in Lebanon, is just plain silly.

Victims’ Families:

Our Leaders, on a field trip: