Black box data show sabotage cannot be blamed for the crash of an Ethiopian airliner that killed 90 people when it plunged into the sea off Beirut last month, a Lebanese minister says.
Transport Minister Ghazi Aridi said the conclusion was reached based on a preliminary report of technical information found in the flight data recorder following expert analysis in France.
The data "showed that all the aircraft's instruments functioned well until it crashed, which rejects the hypothesis of an act (of sabotage) involving an explosion," Aridi told a news conference at Beirut airport.
His comments came after the office of Information Minister Tareq Mitri issued a statement saying "there is absolutely no evidence an act of sabotage or a terrorist act."
There have been conflicting reports as to whether the passenger jet exploded while airborne or after it hit the water.
The Lebanese government had already ruled out sabotage and pilot error as causes of the crash, but Ethiopian Airlines said on Wednesday that it could not reject any factor, including foul play.
Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409 plunged into the Mediterranean Sea shortly after takeoff from Beirut airport on January 25 during a fierce storm.
The Boeing 737-800 was bound for Addis Ababa with 83 passengers and seven crew on board. No survivors were found and searchers have been struggling to recover bodies as most victims are believed to be still strapped to their seats.