EgyptAir Flight 804 Vanishes From Radar with 66 People Aboard … Terrorism or Mechanical Failure? (Update: Plane “Swerved and then Plunged”)
EgyptAir Flight 804 vanished from radar.
CNN is reporting that EgyptAir Flight 804 vanished from radar on its way from Paris to Cairo with 66 people aboard. There were 56 passengers, including one child two babies and 10 crew members. The plane disappeared from radar about 10 miles after entering Egyptian airspace. Search teams have been sent to last recorded location of the plane about 30-40 miles north of Egtpt’s coast. According to reports, weather conditions were clear and calm when the plane crossed over the Mediterranean Sea.
EgyptAir Flight 804 vanished from radar on its way from Paris to Cairo with 66 people aboard, the airline said Thursday.
The plane was flying at 37,000 feet when it lost contact overnight above the Mediterranean Sea, the airline tweeted. French President Francois Hollande said he had been told the flight crashed.
It’s too early in the investigation to say for sure what caused the disaster, and at this point experts say anything from mechanical failure to the terrorism is a possibility.
A distress signal was detected in the general vicinity where the flight disappeared, said Capt. Ahmed Adel, a vice chairman at EgyptAir. The signal was detected at 4:26 a.m. — about 2 hours after the jet vanished, he said. Adel said the distress signal could have come from another vessel in the Mediterranean. But the Egyptian armed forces stressed that they had not received a distress call. There’s no confirmed information on the status of the missing plane, Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said.
The EgyptAir flight “swerved and then plunged” before its descent into the Mediterranean, the Greek Defense Minister said during a news conference.
“At 3:37am local time, immediately after the aircraft entered Cairo airspace at 37,000 feet, the aircraft swerved 90 degrees left and then 360 degrees to the right and descended from 37,000 feet to 15,000 feet and then 10,000 feet, when we lost the signal,” Panos Kammenos told reporters in Athens.
French President Francois Hollande told a press conference that the plane had crashed, but said it was too soon to speculate as to the cause.
“No hypothesis can be ruled out,” he said.
Egyptian and Greek authorities are searching for the plane, which was flying at an altitude of nearly 37,000 feet when it disappeared from radar shortly before it was due to land.
Almost immediately after entering Egyptian airspace the plane swerved sharply and then lost altitude before it dropped off radar, Greece’s Defense Minister Panos Kammenos told a press conference.
When the plane vanished it was about 175 miles away from Egypt’s coast, according to officials. [...]
Airbus — the maker of the plane — said in a statement that it regretted to confirm that “an A320 operated by Egyptair was lost” over the Mediterranean Sea.
French and Egyptian officials stressed they were closely cooperating to determine what caused the crash. Radar showed no adverse weather in the area at the time of the jet’s disappearance.
Egyptian and Greek authorities were focusing search efforts in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Greek military confirmed that one of its frigates and two of its aircraft were assisting in the operation about 130 nautical miles south-southeast of the island of Karpathos.
Was Terrorism to blame?
Egypt’s prime minister says he can’t “rule out” the possibility that a terrorist attack brought the plane down. He says there was no “distress call” but there was a “signal” from the plane.
A search was launched to find the downed aircraft, but an Israeli newspaper quoted witnesses as saying they saw a fireball in the sky around the time the plane disappeared.
The Greek Defense Minister said the flight abrupt turns, suddenly lost altitude and then vanished from radar.
UPDATE IV: Egyptian minister says plane crash search widens.
Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi said Egypt-Greek search for debris of crashed EgyptAir plane off Greek island of Karpathos is expanding.
Hours after the plane disappeared on Thursday, Fathi told reporters in Cairo that the diameter of the search area will widen, moving further south of the island.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s chief prosecutor Nabil Sadek says he has ordered an “urgent investigation” into crash of EgyptAir plane. Sadek instructed the National Security Prosecutor to open an “extensive investigation” in the incident.
Greece’s defense minister, Panos Kammenos, says Greece has a submarine on standby which is participating in a NATO exercise about 100 miles (160 kms) away from the presumed crash area, while F-16 fighter jets stationed on Crete could also be used if necessary. The country already has a navy frigate, two military transport planes and a radar plane participating in the search and rescue operation, while he said Egypt had sent a C-130 military transport plane and two F-16s.
France is providing Falcon navy support aircraft, he said, while Greece has contacted the US and Russia, and the American side has offered and Greece has accepted the help of a maritime support aircraft.