Most Were "Frozen Solid," According To Rescuers
ANN REAL TIME NEWS: 0820 EDT -- Cyprus-based Helios
Airways has grounded all flights in the wake of Saturday's fatal
crash near Athens.
ANN Contributor Nathan Morley is in
Cyprus. By clicking here, you can listen to his
"The company did this of its own volition after the
strength of public opinion," a Helios spokesman told
As Greek recovery teams sifted through the wreckage of a Helios
Airlines 737 that went down on Sunday, they reported finding bodies
that were "frozen solid" after the plane suffered what appeared to
be a catastrophic loss of cabin pressure and heat, authorities
said. The Cypriot aircraft's black boxes were recovered and
investigators hoped to find they would provide some insight into
the mishap, which killed all 121 people on board.
Early speculation centered on the air conditioning system aboard
the 737. Before becoming incapacitated, the pilot radioed the air
conditioning system was malfunctioning. Greek authorities, who had
declared the aircraft a "renegade" and scrambled F-16 fighters to
intercept, said terrorism had been ruled out as the cause of the
"The situation was characterized renegade, meaning the aircraft
was not under the control of the pilots," Roussopoulos told
reporters. At a later stage, the F-16s saw two individuals in the
cockpit seemingly trying to regain control of the airplane," Greek
government spokesman Theodore Roussopoulos told Reuters. It was not
known if the two people in the cockpit were passengers or crew
"The F-16s also saw
oxygen masks down when they got close to the aircraft. The aircraft
was making continuous right-hand turns to show it had lost radio
contact," Roussopoulos said. "A passenger on the doomed plane said
in an SMS text to his cousin in Athens: "The pilot has turned blue.
Cousin farewell, we're freezing."
The Cypriot aircraft was on a flight from Larnaca to Athens,
then on to Prague. Ninety minutes after the aircraft was declared
"renegade," it went down in the mountains near Athens.
Callers to Cypriot media outlets said they had experienced
trouble with the cabin heat on board recent Helios flights. One man
said, while he was on a flight from Prague last week, the cabin
temperature dropped remarkably in a span of about 20-minutes. The
cabin crew handed out blankets and the plane -- possibly the same
aircraft that crashed Sunday, according to the caller, landed
Helios executives said the aircraft was maintained, certified
problem-free and allowed to fly again.
As the investigation into Sunday's mishap continues, passengers
and crew members are clearly spooked about Helios. On Monday, about
100 passengers bound from Larnaca to Sofia, Bulgaria, refused to
board the Helios 737 -- after the crew refused as well.