A lost suitcase ended up saving a man’s life as it prevented him from boarding a flight which crashed and killed everyone on board.
Antonis Mavropoulos was set to board flight ET302 yesterday (March 10), travelling from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, to Nairobi in Kenya.
Just six minutes after taking off, the flight crashed near the town of Bishoftu, killing 149 passengers and eight crew members in the deadliest aviation disaster in Ethiopia’s history.
Antonis would have been the 150th passenger to board, but he was running late after spending 40 minutes looking for a suitcase which had gone missing on an earlier leg of his journey.
The Greek man took to Facebook to share his story, where he explained boarding had finished when he arrived at the gate, though he could still see the last of the passengers getting on the plane.
He wrote (translated)
I was mad because there was no one to help me go fast.
When I arrived [at the gate], the boarding was closed and I watched the last passengers in the tunnel go in – I screamed to put me on but they didn’t allow it.
Antonis was booked on a later flight and transferred to a lounge while he waited. However, when he went to board the second flight, two security officers informed him that he had to remain at the airport.
The father protested, but he was then led to the airport police department where an officer told him ‘not to protest and say thank you to God’, because he had narrowly avoided boarding the doomed flight.
Officials had to question Antonis to check his identity and find out why he hadn’t boarded the flight. He described how at first he thought the officer was lying, but it soon became clear he had made an incredible escape.
Antonis learned from friends that flight ET302, which was expected to travel for two hours, had never landed in Nairobi and had crashed minutes after takeoff.
The Greek contacted his family to let them know he hadn’t boarded the flight, and wrote on Facebook how lucky he was.
I’m grateful to live and that I have so many friends that made me feel their love – kisses to all and a warm thank you for your touching support.
Maybe not too old to rock n roll – but certainly too young to die.
Ethiopian Airlines explained the pilot had reported difficulties shortly after take off and had asked to return to Addis Ababa. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
Accident Bulletin no. 3
Issued on March 10, 2019 at 4:59 PM pic.twitter.com/5UOxsbl24f
— Ethiopian Airlines (@flyethiopian) March 10, 2019
Passengers from more than 30 different countries were on board the flight, including seven Britons.
Many of those travelling, including Antonis, had been heading to Nairobi to attend the annual assembly of the UN Environment Programme. A UN official said at least 19 victims were affiliated with the United Nations.
Our thoughts are with the friends and family of all those who lost their lives in the disaster.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.