An EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo has disappeared after crashing into the Mediterranean Sea, Egypt’s national airline said. Flight MS804, which was carrying a total of 66 passengers and crew, disappeared from radar shortly after entering Egyptian airspace.
Greek and Egyptian armed forces have launched a major search and rescue operation. France has offered to send military planes and boats in order to aid in the search.
At this moment in time, it is unclear what caused the crash, with both French and Egyptian officials refusing to comment on what happened to the plane.
Although there is no evidence to suggest that the crash was caused by a terrorist attack, no theories are being ruled out. The so-called Islamic State (ISIS) had vowed to target Egypt and the westerners who visit it, after it brought down a Russian passenger jet seven months ago.
“We must ensure that we know everything on the causes of what happened. No hypothesis is ruled out or favoured,” Francois Hollande, the French President, said at an Elysée press conference.”Whether it was an accident or another hypothesis that everyone has on their mind – a terrorist hypothesis… at this stage we must focus on our solidarity with the families and the search for the causes of the catastrophe.”
Flight MS804 left Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport at 23:09 local time on Wednesday (21:09 GMT). The flight was scheduled to arrive in the Egyptian capital soon after 03:15 local time on Thursday, but disappeared at 2:45 local time on Thursday (00:45 GMT), shortly after entering Egyptian air space.
According to Greece’s defence minister, Flight MS804 made “sharp turns” and plunged before dropping off the radar. He later added that the plane appears to have fallen more than 20,000 feet and then spun sharply before it disappeared.
56 passengers – including three children – seven crew members and three security personnel were on board the flight. They included 30 Egyptians, 15 French citizens and a Briton.
Air traffic controllers had spoken to the pilot a few minutes before the flights disappearance and everything had appeared normal, said Aviation officials in Greece.
At the time of the plane’s disappearance, the weather had been clear, according to Eurocontrol, the European air traffic network. “Our daily weather assessment does not indicate any issues in that area at that time,” it said.
“There was nothing unusual,” EgyptAir vice chairman Ahmed Adel told Reuters. “The search and rescue aircraft from the Egyptian air force are at the position where we lost contact. They are still looking and so far there is nothing found.”
Relatives of passengers aboard the plane have gathered at airports in Cairo and Paris to wait for news.
Concerned about relatives or friends following the disappearance of the flight? Call this free number provided by EgyptAir: +202 259 89320.
Image: Flickr, ERIC SALARD
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