CAIRO — An EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo with 66 passengers and crew on board, including a Canadian, crashed in the Mediterranean Sea early Thursday morning, Egyptian aviation officials said.
EgyptAir Flight 804 was lost from radar at 2:45 a.m. local time when it was flying at 37,000 feet, the airline said. It said the Airbus A320 had vanished 16 kilometres after it entered Egyptian airspace, around 280 km off the country’s coastline north of the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria.
The aviation officials later said the plane crashed and that a search for debris was now underway. The “possibility that the plane crashed has been confirmed,” as the plane hasn’t landed in any of the nearby airports, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
The official said a signal had been picked up from the plane two hours after it disappeared from radar, thought to have been an emergency beacon
Egyptian military aircraft and navy ships were taking part in a search operation off Egypt’s Mediterranean coast to locate the plane.
The 56 passengers include one Canadian, 30 Egyptians, 15 French citizens, one Briton, two Iraqis, one Kuwaiti, one Saudi, one Sudanese, one Chadian, one Portuguese and one Algerian. The airline said a child and two babies were among the passengers.
Global Affairs Canada said it was “aware of the possibility that a Canadian may have been on board the flight” and that the department was “monitoring the situation closely.” The statement added that Canadian officials in Cairo and Paris are working with local authorities to confirm this information.
Egypt’s state-run newspaper Al-Ahram quoted an airport official as saying the pilot did not send a distress call, and that last contact with the plane was made 10 minutes before it disappeared from radar. It did not identify the official.
Airbus is aware of the disappearance, but “we have no official information at this stage of the certitude of an accident,” the company’s spokesman Jacques Rocca said.
The Paris airport authority and the French civil aviation authority would not immediately comment.
Queries about the missing plane sent out to the U.S. Federal Aviation Agency were not returned early Thursday.
French president Francois Hollande spoke with Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on the phone and agreed to “closely co-operate to establish as soon as possible the circumstances” in which the EgyptAir flight disappeared, according to a statement issued in Paris.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said no scenario could be ruled out at the moment as for what caused the plane to disappear. France, he told RTL radio, was “ready” to join the search operation if Egyptian authorities requested his country’s assistance.
Around 15 relatives of passengers on board the missing flight have arrived at Cairo airport. Airport authorities brought doctors to the scene after several distressed family members collapsed.
Neither France’s foreign ministry nor its interior ministry would comment on the disappearance or on whether it could have been an attack.
France remains under a state of emergency after Islamic extremist attacks killed 130 people in a spree of attacks in November claimed by the extremist Islamic State group.
Greece joined the search and rescue operation for the EgyptAir flight with two aircraft: one C-130 and one early warning aircraft, officials at the Hellenic National Defence General Staff said. They said one frigate was also heading to the area, and helicopters are on standby on the southern island of Karpathos for potential rescue or recovery operations.
An EgyptAir plane was hijacked and diverted to Cyprus in March. A man who admitted to the hijacking and is described by Cypriot authorities as “psychologically unstable” is in custody in Cyprus.
The incident renewed security concerns at Egyptian airports after a Russian passenger plane crashed in Sinai last October, killing all 224 people on board. Moscow said it was brought down by an explosive device, and a local branch of the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for planting it.
In 1999, EgyptAir Flight 990 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near the Massachusetts island of Nantucket, killing all 217 people aboard, U.S. investigators filed a final report that concluded its co-pilot switched off the autopilot and pointed the Boeing 767 downward. But Egyptian officials rejected the notion of suicide altogether, insisting some mechanical reason caused the crash.
For more information, see how events are unfolding:
The latest news on EgyptAir Flight 804 from Paris to Cairo, carrying 66 people, which Egyptian officials say crashed early Thursday into the Mediterranean Sea off the Greek island of Crete. (all times local):
A retired weapons developer says it looks increasingly unlikely that a structural failure is behind the crash of EgyptAir Flight 804.
Retired Maj. Gen. Robert Latiff, an expert on aerospace systems and emerging weapons technologies at the University of Notre Dame, says while it’s too early to tell for certain, a structural failure for the Airbus A320 plane is “vanishingly improbable.”
He says “a plane in straight and level flight at 37,000 feet is a pretty benign situation.”
Latiff says “sabotage is possible, and if there were lax controls at airports and loose hiring and security policies, increasingly likely.”
Officials say EgyptAir Flight 804 from Paris to Cairo crashed early Thursday with 66 people on board.
Britain is sending a military ship and a plane to join the search for EgyptAir Flight 804, which Egyptian officials say has crashed into eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon says he has dispatched Royal Navy support ship RFA Lyme Bay, which is in the Mediterranean, and a C-130 Hercules aircraft from Royal Air Force base Akrotiri in Cyprus to support the Egyptian-led effort. He says “we stand ready to offer further assistance” if needed.
Britain says one U.K. citizen was among the 66 people aboard the flight Thursday from Paris to Cairo.
Kuwait’s Foreign Ministry has identified a Kuwaiti feared dead in the EgyptAir plane crash in the Mediterranean Sea.
A ministry statement carried Thursday afternoon by the state-run Kuwait News Agency named the missing passenger as Abdulmohsen al-Muteiri. It offered no other details about al-Muteiri.
The statement quoted Sami al-Hamad, an assistant foreign minister for consular affairs, as saying Kuwait had been in touch with Egyptian authorities over the crash.
The EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo with 66 passengers and crew on board crashed Thursday morning in the Mediterranean Sea off the Greek island of Crete. Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail has said it is too early to say whether a technical problem or a terror attack caused the Airbus A320 to crash.
Among passengers on missing EgyptAir Flight 804 was a student training at a French military school who was heading to his family home in Chad to mourn his mother.
The protocol officer for Chad’s embassy in Paris, Muhammed Allamine, said the man “was going to give condolences to his family.” Allamine said the man, who wasn’t identified, was a student at France’s prestigious Saint-Cyr army academy.
Another passenger on the flight was an Egyptian man returning home after medical treatment in France, according to two shocked friends who turned up at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport.
“It breaks my heart,” said one friend, Madji Samaan.
Passengers arriving for the 3:45 p.m. EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo faced heavy grey curtains drawn over the departure hall and journalists waiting outside. Most of those interviewed stayed stoic, saying it didn’t make sense to cancel their plane trip out of fear _ even if many acknowledged being a little rattled.
Officials say EgyptAir Flight 804 from Paris to Cairo crashed into the Mediterranean Sea early Thursday with 66 people on board.
A Greek military official says an Egyptian search plane has located two orange items believed to be from the missing EgyptAir flight.
The official says the items were found 230 miles (370 kilometres) south-southeast of the island of Crete but still within the Egyptian air traffic control area. One of the items was oblong, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with regulations.
Russian security official Alexander Bortnikov says “in all likelihood it was a terror attack” that caused EgyptAir Flight 804 from Paris to Cairo to crash into the Mediterranean early Thursday with 66 people on board.
— Elena Becatoros in Athens
___ 3 p.m.
The head of Russia’s top domestic security agency says the crashed Egyptian jet has apparently been brought down by a terror attack. Alexander Bortnikov said on Thursday that “in all likelihood it was a terror attack” causing the crash of the EgyptAir Flight 804 from Paris to Cairo with 66 people on board, according to Russian news agencies.
Bortnikov, the head of the Federal Security Service, called for a joint action to track down those responsible for that “monstrous attack.”
Last October, a Russian plane flying from Egypt crashed into the Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. Moscow said it was brought down by an explosive device
Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi says the possibility of a terror attack as the cause of the EgyptAir crash is “stronger” than technical failure. Fathi was responding to a reporter’s question during a press conference on Thursday in Cairo.
He said that he doesn’t want draw conclusions but that analysis points to terrorism as a cause with a higher probability.
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 defence 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.
Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi stresses that Egypt doesn’t rule out any possibilities in the crash of the EgyptAir flight including a “terrorist attack.”
Speaking in a press conference in Cairo, Fathi says that he insists on saying “missing plane” until debris is found.
Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos says the EgyptAir flight made abrupt turns, suddenly lost altitude just before vanishing from radar shortly after entering Cairo’s air traffic control area of responsibility.
Kammenos said the aircraft was 10-15 miles inside the Egyptian area and at an altitude of 37,000 feet. He says: “It turned 90 degrees left and then a 360- degree turn toward the right, dropping from 38,000 to 15,000 feet and then it was lost at about 10,000 feet,” he said.
Greek civil aviation authorities say all appeared fine with the flight until the time when air traffic controllers were to hand it over to their Egyptian counterparts. The pilot did not respond to their calls, and the aircraft then vanished from radars. Kammenos’ comments are the first indication of what might have happened after the aircraft entered Cairo’s air traffic control space.
Passengers are preparing to board an EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo, hours after an earlier EgyptAir flight on the same route disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea.
Salama Kordeya, a 66-year-old business traveller, shrugged off journalists asking him whether he was comfortable stepping on to the flight.
He tells journalists: “Thousands of car accidents … and we use cars. I’m not afraid.”
Authorities have set up a special crisis centre at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport for families of passengers of the missing plane.
Greece’s Civil Aviation Authority says traffic controllers’ last communication with the EgyptAir pilot found him in good spirits. Greek air traffic controllers lost contact as the flight headed into the Egyptian area of responsibility.
The Civil Aviation Authority says the flight entered the Greek air traffic control area, or FIR, at 02:24 Greek time (2324 GMT), was identified and approved on its flight course and passed into the next section of air traffic control and was approved by the controller for the exit point of the Greek FIR.
Air traffic controllers tried to contact the pilot again at 03:27 local time for the handover of the plane to Cairo’s area of responsibility, but “despite repeated calls, the aircraft did not respond.”
Air traffic control then called on the emergency frequency and again there was no response. At 03:29, the aircraft was over the exit point of the Athens FIR, and at 03:29.40 it vanished from radar. The Greek authority said the military was asked for help in case the plane could be located on a military radar, but there was no sign of it. Search and rescue operations began at 03:45.
French President Francois Hollande has confirmed the crash of the EgyptAir flight, and says no hypothesis is ruled out or preferred, including an accident or a terrorist act.
Hollande says: “When we have the truth we need to draw all the conclusions.”
Speaking at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Hollande adds: “At this stage, we must give priority to solidarity toward the families” of the victims.
The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into the disappearance of the EgyptAir flight.
The prosecutor said in a statement Thursdya that its collective accident department opened the investigation with the national gendarme service.
It said “no hypothesis is favoured or ruled out at this stage.”
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault says “nothing is confirmed” regarding the disappearance of the EgyptAir flight and is warning against some unverified information in circulation.
Ayrault, speaking after meeting with families gathered at a hotel at Charles de Gaulle airport, tells journalists the priority is “solidarity” with them and extended a “message of compassion and support.”
He says French authorities are in direct contact with Greek and Egyptian authorities.
The French military says a Falcon surveillance jet monitoring the Mediterranean for migrants has been diverted to help search for an EgyptAir flight that crashed in the area.
Military spokesman Col. Gilles Jaron told The Associated Press that the jet is joining the Egypt-led search effort, and the French navy may send another plane and a ship to the zone.
He said the Falcon was on a surveillance mission as part of EU efforts to monitor migrants crossing the Mediterranean toward Europe.
The French government has offered military help to find the plane, en route from Paris to Cairo when it disappeared.
Airbus says the missing Egyptian plane flight was delivered to EgyptAir in 2003 and had logged 48,000 flight hours.
The European plane-maker said in a statement Thursday that the plane had engines made by Swiss-based engine consortium IAE, and had the serial number 2088.
Airbus said it is ready to help authorities investigating the disappearance and said “our concerns go out to all those affected.”
The director of Greece’s Civil Aviation Authority says air traffic controllers were in contact with the pilot of the EgyptAir flight as it passed through Greek airspace.
The director, Konstantinos Lintzerakos, said the plane was at 37,000 feet, travelling at 519 mph, and did not report any problem.
Lyzerakos told private Antenna television that controllers tried to make contact with the pilot 10 miles before the flight exited the Greek Flight Information Range (FIR), but the pilot did not respond. Lyzerakos says controllers continued trying to contact the pilot until 3:39 a.m. Greek time (1239 GMT) when the plane disappeared from the radar.
Lyzerakos says the plane was in Cairo’s FIR when it vanished.
France’s transport chief says there were three Egyptian security officers on the EgyptAir flight that disappeared after leaving Paris for Cairo.
Alain Vidalies told reporters Thursday after an emergency government meeting that the plane had seven crew members and three Egyptian security officers, “which is the usual practice.”
He said the plane was not carrying freight.
Egypt’s state news agency quotes Prime Minister Sherif Ismail as saying he can’t “rule out” any possibility when asked whether a terrorist attack is behind the missing plane. He said there was no “distress call” but there was a “signal” received from the plane.
The spokesman of the Egyptian army, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Samir, says in a statement posted on the army’s official Facebook page that the army has not received any distress call from the missing plane.
France is offering to send military planes and boats to help search for an EgyptAir flight that disappeared en route from Paris to Cairo.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault says the government is in constant contact with Egyptian authorities since the plane’s disappearance early Thursday.
He said: “We are at the disposition of the Egyptian authorities with our military capacities, with our planes, our boats to help in the search for this plane.”
He spoke after French President Francois Hollande held an emergency meeting at the Elysee Palace.
Ayrault confirmed 15 French people were on the flight. “We imagine the anguish of the families.”
Relatives of passengers on a vanished EgyptAir flight have started arriving at Charles de Gaulle Airport outside Paris, where their loved ones boarded the aircraft.
A man and a woman, identified by airport staff as relatives of the flight’s passengers, sat at an information desk near the EgyptAir counter Thursday at the airport’s Terminal 1. The woman was sobbing, holding her face in a handkerchief.
The two were led away by police and airport staff and did not speak to journalists.
The French government is setting up a crisis centre for relatives at the airport.
Egyptian aviation officials say an EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo with 66 passengers and crew on board has crashed.
The officials say the search is now underway for the debris. They say the “possibility that the plane crashed has been confirmed,” as the plane hasn’t landed in any of the nearby airports.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls says France is ready to join the search operation if Egyptian authorities request it.
Speaking on RTL radio, Valls says the Paris airport authority has opened a crisis centre to support the families coming to Charles de Gaulle Airport.
The French government says President Francois Hollande spoke with Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi by telephone, and they agreed to “closely co-operate to establish the circumstances” in which the EgyptAir flight disappeared.
The government statement cited Hollande as saying he shares the anxiety of families, in a written statement.
EgyptAir says passengers on Flight 804 included 30 Egyptians, 15 French, two Iraqis, and one each from Algeria, Britain, Belgium, Canada, Chad, Kuwait, Portugal, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.
Reporters gathered in front of the small, empty EgyptAir counter at Terminal 1 of Charles de Gaulle Airport. Airport staff said EgyptAir staff were on their way.
Neither France’s Foreign Ministry nor Interior Ministry would comment on the disappearance of the jet or on whether it could have been an attack.
EgyptAir said the Airbus A320 was carrying 66 people on a flight from Paris to Cairo when disappeared from the radar at 2:45 a.m. Egypt time.
France remains under a state of emergency after Islamic extremist attacks killed 130 people in November. The Islamic State group continues to threaten the country.
Ahram, Egypt’s state-run newspaper, quoted an airport official as saying that the pilot had not sent a distress signal before the plane disappeared early Thursday. The last contact with the plane was 10 minutes before it vanished, he was quoted as saying.
The maker of the EgyptAir plane that has gone missing on a flight from Paris to Cairo says it’s unclear what happened.
Airbus spokesman Jacques Rocca says Thursday the company is aware of the disappearance but “we have no official information at this stage of the certitude of an accident.”
The A320 is one of the most widely used Airbus planes, a single-aisle plane that usually seats about 150 people and is used for short- and medium-range flights around the world. Nearly 4,000 are in operation, according the company’s website.
Greece is participating in the search and rescue operation for the missing EgyptAir flight with two aircraft. Helicopters are on standby on the southern island of Karpathos for potential rescue or recovery operations.
The Hellenic National Defence General Staff said one frigate is also heading to the area where the plane disappeared and is about 100 nautical miles or 4 hours away at this time.