"We are all frozen."
ANN REALTIME NEWS UPDATE 1730 EDT All aboard the
aircraft perished during the crash, if not before. No survivors
have been found. The "black boxes" have been
"When a pilot has no communication with the control
tower, the procedure dictates that other planes must accompany and
help the plane land. Unfortunately, it appeared that the pilot was
already dead as was, possibly, everyone else on the plane,'' said
Cyprus Transport Minister Haris Thrasou in media
Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos reportedly
said that when the F-16s intercepted the plane, fighter pilots
could see the co-pilot slumped over his seat. The captain was not
seen in the cockpit, and oxygen masks were dangling inside the
cabin. He said the pilots also saw two people possibly trying
to take control of the plane; it was unclear if they were crew
members or passengers.
Helios Airways Boeing 737 crashed Sunday near the coastal
town of Grammatikos, Greece, with 116 passengers and 6 crew
onboard. The flight was heading from Larnaca, Cyprus to Athens
International Airport when it crashed approximately 25 miles north
of Athens. There are reports that those onboard were unconscious
when the plane went down.
Rescue personnel and residents of Grammatikos are searching
through the wreckage for survivors.
Unconfirmed reports state that the pilots were not in contact
with the Athens control tower, and the pilots did not respond to
repeated radio calls. The Greek air force had scrambled two F-16
fighters to intercept the airliner, and there are reports that the
air force pilots could see no sign of movement from the cockpit of
The head of Greece's aviation safety department, Akrivos
Tsolakis, stated that there may have been a loss of cabin pressure.
"There apparently was a lack of oxygen which is usually the case
when the cabin is depressurized," he said.
A passenger on the
airplane sent a text message to his cousin's mobile phone minutes
before the crash.
"He told me the pilots were unconscious," said Sotiris Voutas.
"He said: 'My cousin I bid you farewell, we are all
Helios Airways was founded in 1999. It operates a small fleet of
737s between Cyprus and London, as well as several other European
destinations. It is Cyprus' first independent airline.
Official Statement By Helios Airways
Helios flight ZU522
from Larnaca to Athens and Prague, carrying 115 passengers and 6
crew members, has crashed north of Athens at approximately 12:20
Fire rescue services are at the scene.
It is unclear as to why the aircraft has crashed at this
stage. There are not reports of survivors.
Our thoughts are with the families of those on board at this
We are doing everything we can to keep them informed and
updated about this tragic accident.