EgyptAir Flight MS804 to Cairo Disappears From Radar

egyptair

Photo: aljazeera.com

EgyptAir flight heading from Paris to Cairo has disappeared from radar with 66 people on board, the airline reports.

EgyptAir has confirmed that flight 804, traveling from Paris to Cairo, has disappeared with 56 passengers and 10 crew members on board.

May 23 – 14:00 [UTC+1]:The pilot of the doomed EgyptAir flight spoke to air traffic control in Egypt for several minutes just before the plane crashed, a French television station has claimed. M6 said that the pilot told Cairo control about the smoke which had engulfed parts of the aircraft and decided to make an emergency descent to try to clear the fumes.

This account directly contradicts the official claim that there was no distress call from the plane. M6’s story, quoting unnamed French aviation officials, was not confirmed by the French air accident investigation agency, the BEA. No such information had been passed by the Egyptian authorities to three BEA investigators who had flown to Cairo to take part in the official inquiry, the agency said.

M6 said that the pilot of the Egyptair A320 had “a conversation several minutes long” with Cairo air traffic control after the plane ran into difficulties in the early hours of Thursday morning. As a result of the conversation, the pilot decided to make an “emergency descent”, depressurising the cabin, in an attempt to clear smoke fumes which had invaded the front of the aircraft.

A European satellite has spotted a potential oil slick in the area of the eastern Mediterranean Sea where flight MS804 disappeared, the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Friday. ESA released a statement:

“The image was acquired by Sentinel-1A yesterday at 4pm GMT (18:00 CEST). ESA has given information related to the image to the relevant authorities to support the search operations. Since the plane disappeared, ESA and experts have been scrutinising satellite data to see if anything could be found to indicate wreckage or oil floating on the sea. According to the satellite image, the slick was at 33°32’ N / 29°13’ E – about 40km southeast of the last known location of the aircraft. The slick is about 2km long. There is, however, no guarantee that the slick is from the missing aircraft.”

Source: theguardian.com
Source: theguardian.com

A second image from this morning at 4am GMT (06:00 CEST) shows that the slick has drifted by about 5km. The Sentinel-2A satellite will pass above the same area on 22 May, and experts will continue to study the images returned for further clues.On Thursday American officials said that satellite imagery has so far shown no signs of an explosion, though they also cautioned that the investigation was in its early stages. The long and still futile search for Malaysia Airlines MH370 should similarly warn away too many conclusions from this report: investigators found several oil slicks and pieces of debris that were not ultimately associated with the missing airplane.

14:30 [UTC+1]: If flight MS804 crashed about 180 miles north of Alexandria, near where the Egyptian military has found debris, it may be one of the more difficult regions of the Mediterranean to search. At its deepest the Mediterranean is more than 17,000ft deep, though that is south-west of Greece in the Ionian Sea. The Levantine Sea, which surrounds Alexandria and the eastern Mediterranean, descends to more than 14,000ft in the Pliny Trench, about 50 miles south of Crete. For comparison the search teams looking for Malaysia Airlines MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean were at times descending to 15,000ft.

Source: theguardian.com
Source: theguardian.com

12:19 [UTC+1]: The Greek defence minister Panos Kammenos said Egyptian authorities have said they have spotted a body part, 2 seats and suitcases in search for the EgyptAir plane. Kammenos said that Greek military bases on Crete would be made available for allied forces carrying out the search mission. He said data clearly shows that the aircraft took sharp turns and plunged, but analysis is for experts to determine. He also said the plane had taken a normal course through Greek airspace and had not deviated.

11:55 [UTC+1]: Mike Vivian, former head of operations at the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, thought the plane’s sudden swerves before dropping off radar were more likely to be caused by human interference than by a bomb.

“It looks highly unlikely that this was consistent with some sort of explosive device,” he said. “One’s inclined to go towards the theory that there had been some interference in the aircraft and on the flight deck, with the control of the aircraft.”

11:12 [UTC+1]: Greece’s lead air accident investigator Athanasios Binis has told the Guardian that an investigation into the causes of the crash can only commence properly when the plane’s black boxes are found. Binis, who last night dispelled earlier reports that debris had been discovered off the island of Crete, said unofficially Greek authorities had received information that wreckage had been found ten miles “from the last known point of the plane.”

“The most important thing is that the plane’s two black boxes are found,” he said. “If the cockpit flight recorder and flight data recorder are found, along with wreckage, then a real investigation can begin.”

Binis clarified that the south eastern Aegean island of Karpathos, referred to earlier as the site of the crash, had been “used as a point of reference.” “We were looking in an area 130 miles south of Karpathos which was used as a point of reference,” he added. Whatever caused the crash, investigators had ruled out meteorological conditions. “There are three reasons for a plane [to go down],” he said. “Meteorological, technical and human. The first has now been ruled out because the weather was quite good. Whether a technical factor or human factor, either inside or outside the plane, is to blame remains to be seen. All possibilities are open.”

10:52 [UTC+1]:  BBC transport correspondent Richard Westcott points out that there was a 50-minute gap between the plane’s final communication with Greek air traffic control (at 02:48 local time) and its disappearance from radar.

10:41 [UTC+1]: Times journalist Anthee Carassava says the Greek MoD has confirmed the discovery of bodies, debris and baggage. 

10:32 [UTC+1]:  Egyptian airport officials have told the Associated Press that investigators will inspect the plane debris and personal belongings that the Egyptian army says it has found. The officials said the chief Egyptian investigator Ayman el-Mokadam will be joined by French and British investigators as well as an expert from AirBus.

10:24 [UTC+1]:  EgyptAir has tweeted condolences to the families of the victims.

10:09 [UTC+1]:  The Egyptian military has said it has found parts of debris from the missing plane 290 kilometres north of the Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria, Reuters is reporting. The navy also found some of the passengers’ belongings and is sweeping the area looking for the plane’s black box, the military said in a statement.

cfm leap-1A
Source: theguardian.com

08:00 [UTC+1]:  Jean-Marc Ayrault, the Frence foreign minister, was this morning still refusing to draw conclusions about the cause of the crash, despite the Egyptian authorities already saying it was likely to have been a terrorist attack.

“We’re looking at all possibilities, but none is being favoured over the others because we have absolutely no indication on the causes (of the crash),” Jean-Marc Ayrault told French television, according to AFP.

The French government will meet families of the victims on Saturday in order to “provide all the information we can,” Ayrault said.

06:38 [UTC+1]:  We now know a bit more about some of the crew members on board flight MS804. The captain has been named as Mohamed Said Shoukair. EgyptAir said he was an experienced pilot, having clocked up 6,275 flying hours, including 2,101 on the A320. His co-pilot and first officer has been named as Mohamed Mamdouh Ahmed Assem. He had 2,766 flying hours. CNN reports both lived in Cairo. The head flight attendant has been named as Mirvat Zaharia Zaki Mohamed.

00:58 [UTC+1]: US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has been ramping up the rhetoric over the circumstances of the plane’s disappearance, telling supporters: “If anybody thinks it wasn’t blown out of the sky, you’re 100% wrong.”

00:27 [UTC+1]: The Australian government has said that one of the passengers on board the missing plane was an Australian-UK dual national. It is unclear at this point if this is Richard Osman, so far identified as the only Briton on the flight.

22:24 [UTC+1]: Though officials have said terrorism is the most likely cause of MS804’s disappearance and assumed crash, a US intelligence review have of satellite imagery has so far not shown evidence of an explosion. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said the conclusion was the result of a preliminary examination of imagery and cautioned against media reports suggesting the United States believed a bomb was responsible for the crash.

The United States has not ruled out any possible causes for the crash, including mechanical failure, terrorism or a deliberate act by the pilot or crew, they said. National security adviser Ben Rhodes has meanwhile told reporters that the White House is not making any claims about what happened to the missing plane.

21:57 [UTC+1]: EgyptAir has retracted its claim to have found debris belonging to flight MS804. “We stand corrected,” Airline vice-president Ahmed Adel has told CNN, adding that the wreckage “is not our aircraft”.

The retraction now puts EgyptAir in line with Greek officials, who had earlier cast doubt on the claim by Egyptian authorities. Neither the airline nor Egypt’s foreign ministry have yet made a public statement. Earlier on Thursday Athanasios Binis, the head of Greece’s air safety authority, has told the AFP. The debris found near Karpathos island “does not come from a plane”.

18:36 [UTC+1]: France’s Accident Investigating Bureau has sent a team of three investigators to Cairo, accompanied by a technical expert from Airbus, the AP reports. The BEA said the team was leaving on Thursday night. In a statement, it said “the BEA could notably counsel Egyptian authorities on the organization of an underwater search to locate the plane and the black boxes.” The BEA said it was taking part in the probe as a representative of the country where the plane was conceived. Airbus, based in Toulouse, has said it was sending a technical expert and could send more if needed.

Back in the US, White House press secretary Josh Earnest has said he’s still not sure whether France, Greece and Egypt will accept the offer of aid from American teams, and that Barack Obama has not spoken with Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi today.

18:01 [UTC+1]: EgyptAir resource stated that the Egyptian Ministry of Civil Aviation has just received an official letter from the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs that confirms the finding of wreckage of the missing aircraft No. MS 804 near Karpathos Island. EgyptAir sincerely conveys its deepest sorrow to the families and friends of the passengers onboard Flight MS804. Family members of passengers and crew have been already informed and we extend our deepest sympathies to those affected.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Investigation Team in co-operation with the Greek counterpart are still searching for other remains of the missing plane.

17:57 [UTC+1]: EgyptAir has tweeted that Greek authorities near the island of Karpathios have found apparent airplane parts, including floating materials likely to be wreckage, life jackets and plastic materials. Egypt’s envoy to France has said that Greek authorities have told the Egyptian embassy in Athens that they’ve found “blue and white debris”. Nearly simultaneously, CNN reports that the vice-president of EgyptAir has told one of its correspondents: “we have found the wreckage.”

17:34 [UTC+1]: The White House has offered assistance to European and Middle East allies, saying that the Department of Homeland Security and TSA have been in contact with foreign ministries and aviation departments to help improve security measures. Press secretary Josh Earnest says though that it’s too early to say what could have caused the EgyptAir crash.

“We have seen a desire on the part of extremists around the world, including some extremists in the Middle East, to carry out attacks targeting the international aviation system. We obviously are mindful of that.”

But says there are no particular concerns about the Paris airport as a specific case. “We’ve obviously learned a lot since 9/11 about what’s necessary to protect the aviation system but that has not diminished the desire of some extremist organizations to try to carry out attacks.”

Earnest adds that the US is “constantly adapting” security measures, and also offers condolences to the families of passengers and crew on the flight. He says that he’s not aware of “any intelligence assessment that’s ruled anything out” nor any that’s “ruled anything in”. “It’s still quite early.” Earlier on Thursday, US secretary of state John Kerry has declined to “speculate” on any possible cause of the flight’s disappearance, telling reporters in Brussels that he does not think even the experts have enough evidence to start developing an idea of what happened.

16:36 [UTC+1]:  EgyptAir says it still has no confirmation that debris has been found off the coast of Crete. Greek defence sources have told multiple news agencies that two large plastic floating objects have been found in the sea 230 nautical miles from Crete.

“There have been finds southeast of Crete, inside the Cairo flight information area,” Greek general staff spokesman Vassilis Beletsiotis said earlier.

Tarek Wahba, the captain of the Maersk Ahram, a ship involved in the search and rescue operation, has posted some pictures on his Facebook account showing debris floating in the sea, which he describes as a “lifejacket and a chair”.

Source: theguardian.com
Source: theguardian.com

We have no confirmation if the debris has anything to do with flight MS804 or where it was found.

16:01 [UTC+1]: The US Navy says it has dispatched a P-3 Orion long-range aircraft to support the search for an EgyptAir plane. President Obama was briefed earlier on the crash by counter-terror advisors.

“US Commander Sixth Fleet is working with the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Greece and the US Defence Attache in Athens, Greece to provide US Navy P-3 Orion support in the search of the missing Egyptian aircraft,” the US navy said in a statement.

The surveillance plane had been sent from the naval air station Sigonella in Sicily.

15:47 [UTC+1]: Some more details are emerging about the passengers who were on the plane, among them a young military student from Chad who was flying home to visit his mother. The protocol officer for Chad’s embassy in Paris, Muhammed Allamine, the protocol officer for the Chad embassy in Paris said the man, who has not been named, was a student at France’s Saint-Cyr military academy. He said the man “was going to give condolences to his family,” according to AFP. One of the 30 Egyptians onboard was a man returning from medical treatment in France, according to two friends who came to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, telling AP they were heart-broken. Kuwait’s foreign ministry has also confirmed one of its citizens, Abdulmohsen al-Muteiri, was on board the plane. His nephew spoke to the Guardian at Cairo airport earlier, saying he was a professor of economics and a father of two, who was excited to be heading to Cairo for a three-day conference.

15:32 [UTC+1]: A Greek military official has said an Egyptian search plane located two orange objects believed to be from the missing flight. The official says the items were found 230 miles 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.

15:16 [UTC+1]: British pilot Alan Carter has told the BBC he was flying a B 747 in same airspace at almost exactly the same time that the EgyptAir plane went down. He called the conditions “perfect” and said there had been no issues with lines of communications.  All air traffic communications were operating normal. I spoke to Athens radar and remarked how quiet it was, and they told me there were only five planes in the area.

15:06 [UTC+1]: Rukmini Callimachi, the New York Times journalist who focuses on Islamic State, says there is no claim of responsibility as yet or anything to indicate that IS terrorism is to blame for the plane’s disappearance. It’s worth nothing that IS claimed responsibility for the downing of Metrojet Flight 9268 over the Sinai on October 31 by that afternoon.

14:59 [UTC+1]: Outside Cairo airport terminal, families are slowly leaving, distraught and frustrated by the lack of information, writes Lara El Gibaly.

“They haven’t said anything to us. We have no information,” said Mervat Mounir, whose relative Samar Ezzeldin was one of the seven Egyptian cabin crew on board. The 27-year-old had been a flight attendant with Egypt air for two years and recently got married. Michery el Soheil came to the airport hoping for news of his cousin Abdelmohsen Soheil, a Kuwaiti professor of economics and a father of two, who was heading to Cairo for a three-day conference.

“We had called him just before he boarded and everything was fine, he was excited to be coming to Cairo,” said Michery.

Describing the situation in the relatives’ waiting hall, he said: “Everyone inside is waiting for any bit of information, we feel powerless. But we are praying for their souls. If anyone was alive, they would have found them by now.” Security personnel outside the hall say fewer than a dozen families remain inside. Many of those who have left have gone to the nearby Le Passage hotel, where EgyptAir is offering the families accommodation.

14:41 [UTC+1]:  Signs of possible wreckage were found off the Greek island of Crete, a Greek military spokesman told AFP.

“There have been finds southeast of Crete, inside the Cairo flight information area,” general staff spokesman Vassilis Beletsiotis said. He added that an Egyptian C-130 plane had spotted the floating objects, and ships would be sent to investigate.

14:33 [UTC+1]: An RAF landing ship has been ordered to help in the search, according to the BBC’s defence correspondent Jonathan Beale. Defence secretary Michael Fallon has also offered to deploy a Hercules aircraft.

13:59 [UTC+1]:  A Greek frigate searching for a missing Egyptair aircraft discovered two large plastic floating objects in a sea area 230 miles south of the island of Crete on Thursday, Greek defence sources said. The two objects appeared to be pieces of plastic in white and red. They were spotted close to an area where a transponder signal was emitted earlier, the sources said.

12:38 [UTC+1]: Greek defence sources are describing time frame between 03:27 to 03:29 as “critical point”, writes Helena Smith.

“It was in this two minute period when the plane made a 90 degree swerve left and dropped from 37,000 feet to 15,000 feet before swerving 60 degrees right and vanishing at 10,000 feet ten to 15 miles inside Egyptian air space. The Greek defence minister Panos Kammenos told reporters in Athens that the country had also scrambled F16 fighter jets to participate in the operation to locate the aircraft off the south eastern Aegean island of Karpathos. Greek officials are hoping satellite footage may help locate the wreckage.”

12:28 [UTC+1]: Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has chaired a meeting of the country’s national security council. His office issued this account of the meeting:

“The meeting addressed the disappearance of the EgyptAir flight en route from Paris to Cairo. Minister of Civil Aviation Sherif Fathy presented a report detailing the information available so far on the plane’s disappearance. The National Security Council decided to continue search efforts through Egyptian aircraft and naval vessels and work on unraveling the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the plane at the soonest time possible in collaboration with countries including France and Greece. The council also directed the government to provide all assistance possible to the families of the passengers and crew. It also directed EgyptAir crisis center to follow up on the development of the situation and announce the latest information.”

11:53 [UTC+1]: No debris has been found, according to another update from the Greek defence minister. Greece has also asked for help on sifting through satellite information on the flight.

11:50 [UTC+1]: The plane made “sudden swerves” before it came down, the Greek defence minister has said.

11:36 [UTC+1]: Here’s a translation from BBC of what President Hollande said:

“It was feared that this plane had crashed. The information that we have managed to gather confirm alas that this plane has crashed, and it has disappeared. 66 passengers were on board, including the crew and security personnel. Among the passengers there were 15 French citizens. A crisis cell was actioned immediately.Alongside the Egyptian authorities we are making sure that all the families should be informed during this test. Our thoughts and solidarity and compassion are with them.We have a duty to know everything about the causes of what happened. No hypothesis should be ruled out. Everything should be put at the disposal of the Greek and Egyptian authorities so that we can liaise with them. We have to send them ships and planes to find where the plane crashed, and to do whatever we can to collect the debris. That will allow us to find the truth.It could be a terrorist hypothesis but at this stage we should express our solidarity to the families and to find out the cause of the catastrophe. We will find the truth.”

11:24 [UTC+1]: French president François Hollande has confirmed that the plane has crashed. In a TV press conference he said “no hypothesis” could be ruled out on the causes of the crash. He also offered help from France in the search for debris.

 Hollande also offered his “solidarity” with the families of those on board.

As stated in EASA: their toughts are with all those affected by the loss of the EgyptAir flight MS804. They are ready to provide any assistance to the investigators.

10:52 [UTC+1]: 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, AP reports. The director, Konstantinos Lintzerakos, said the plane was at 37,000 feet, traveling 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 (12.39 GMT) when the plane disappeared from the radar.

Lyzerakos says the plane was in Cairo’s FIR when it vanished.

10:42 [UTC+1]: MarineTraffic, a shipping tracking website, has put together an updated video on the ships joining the search in the Mediterranean for the missing plane.

10:36 [UTC+1]: Greek aircraft have joined the sea search for the missing plane, according to the BBC’s Quentin Sommerville. There has been an unconfirmed report that the plane came down 130 miles off the Greek Island of Karpathos.

10:11 [UTC+1]: The Foreign Office says it is working closely with the Egyptian and French authorities, after EgyptAir confirmed that a Briton was on board the missing plane. “Our staff are in contact with the family of a British national believed to be on board and are providing support,” a spokesman told PA.

09:56 [UTC+1]:  There is still no official confirmation that the plane has crashed, but EgyptAir officials and the Egyptian civil aviation department have told Reuters they believed the jet came down in the sea.

“The theory that the plane crashed and fell is now confirmed after the preliminary search and after it did not arrive at any of the nearby airports,” said a senior aviation source, who declined to be identified.

The source added: “All causes for the disaster are open, whether it is a major technical fault or a terrorist action or any other circumstance. This will be ascertained when we inspect the plane’s wreckage and transcribe its black boxes.”

Meanwhile, a Greek defence ministry source said authorities were also investigating an account from the captain of a merchant ship who reported a ‘flame in the sky’ about 130 nautical miles south of the island of Karpathos. The boat tracking site MarineTraffic reports that eight boats have joined the search for the missing plane.

marine
Source: marinetraffic.com

09:49 [UTC+1]: Here’s a map showing the last known position of missing flight MS804.

map
Source: theguardian.com

09:39 [UTC+1]: France’s foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, has discussed the missing plane in a telephone call with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry. The French embassy in Cairo said Ayrault expressed the solidarity of France with Egypt, “in this terrible ordeal”. Ayrault is also reported to have set up a “crisis cell” at the French embassy in Cairo. EgyptAir said 15 of the people on board were French nationals.

Egypt’s Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said it was too early to rule out any explanation for the incident, including terrorism, Reuters reports.

 “Search operations are ongoing at this time for the airplane in the area where it is believed to have lost contact,” he told reporters at Cairo airport. Asked by a journalist if he could rule out that terrorists were behind the incident, Ismail said: “We cannot exclude anything at this time or confirm anything. All the search operations must be concluded so we can know the cause.”

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will chair a national security council meeting on Thursday morning, a statement from his office said.

09:24 [UTC+1]: Airbus has issued a statement confirming that MS804 was lost over the Mediterrean at 2.30am. It has not confirmed a report that the plane crashed. Here’s the statement:

“Airbus regrets to confirm that an A320 operated by Egyptair was lost at around 02:30 am (Egypt local time) today over the Mediterranean sea. The aircraft was operating a scheduled service, Flight MS 804 from Paris, France to Cairo, Egypt. The aircraft involved, registered under SU-GCC was MSN (Manufacturer Serial Number) 2088 delivered to Egyptair from the production line in November 2003. The aircraft had accumulated approximately 48,000 flight hours. It was powered by IAE engines. At this time no further factual information is available. In line with ICAO annex 13, Airbus stands-by ready to provide full technical assistance to French Investigation Agency – BEA – and to the Authorities in charge of the investigation. The first A320 entered service in March 1988. At the end of April 2016 over6700 A320 Family aircraft were in operation worldwide. To date, the entire fleet has accumulated nearly 180 million flight hours in over 98 million flights. Our concerns go to all those affected. Airbus will make further factual information available as soon as the details have been confirmed and cleared by the authorities for release.”

09:21 [UTC+1]: Egypt’s minister of Civil Aviation Sherif Fathy is due to hold press conference, but not for almost three hours. Daily News Egypt says the press conference by Sherif Fathy is due to take place at 1pm local time (12pm BST)

08:44 [UTC+1]: Lara El Gibaly reports from Cairo international airport: Outside the terminal, doctors, and nurses, as well as military personnel, have been seen going into the hall where relatives of the passengers of the missing plane are being kept. The Egyptian aviation ministry has announced a press conference due to take place at 1.30pm local time (11.30am GMT).

Source: theguardian.com
Source: theguardian.com

08:39 [UTC+1]: It is not clear whether this contradicts the EgyptAir report that a signal was received from the plane’s emergency devices – presumed to be a locator transmitter or beacon – at 04.26 local time (02.26 GMT), two hours after the last radar contact. It could refer to the previous statement by EgyptAir that no distress call was received from the cockpit. In the army statement, the spokesman of the Egyptian army, Brigadier General Mohammed Samir, said the army had not received any distress call from the missing plane.

08:23 [UTC+1]: French prime minister Manuel Valls says France has offered to send planes and boats to help the search for missing EgyptAir flight. French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said: “Everything must be done to find the plane, that’s why we’re in contact with the Egyptian authorities.We are mobilising and ready to send our military means, planes and boats, to search for this plane.” French transport minister Alain Vidalies confirmed the report from EgyptAir that there was no cargo on board the Airbus A320.

08:08 [UTC+1]: The Egyptian prime minister, Sherif Ismail, is at Cairo international airport, EgyptAir says: “Engineer Ismael was presented with a detailed briefing about the situation from the crisis team and he has directed all the concerned authorities to take all necessary action for dealing with the crisis.”

07:55 [UTC+1]: The Egyptian navy, air force and coastguard are all involved in the search for the missing plane, reports from Cairo say. Greece has also joined the search, taking place around 280km north of the Egyptian coast in the Mediterranean, sending two aircraft and a frigate. Greece said it also had helicopters on standby in case rescue operations were necessary.

07:51 [UTC+1]: There is some confusion over this new distress signal, reported to have been received at 04.26 local time (02.26 GMT). This is two hours after the last confirmed contact via radar, which was at 02.30 local time (00.30 GMT). But it is possible that the later signal, which has been described in some reports as a distress call, could have been an automated distress signal from an emergency locator beacon.

07:26 [UTC+1]: EgyptAir says that the plane’s emergency devices (possibly an emergency locator transmitter or beacon) sent a distress signal that was received at 4.26am, some two hours after the previously stated last radar contact.

07:16 [UTC+1]: French prime minister Manuel Valls says “no theory can be ruled out” in investigating the disappearance of MS804, which left Paris Charles de Gaulle airport late on Wednesday night. Speaking to RTL radio on Thursday morning, Valls said:

“We are in close contact with the Egyptian authorities, both civil and military. The Egyptian authorities have already sent air reconnaissance teams to the site, and France is ready to help with the search if the Egyptian authorities ask, of course. At this stage, no theory can be ruled out regarding the causes of the disappearance.”

 EgyptAir has said 15 of the 56 passengers on board the missing plane are French.

07:02 [UTC +1 ]: The French government will hold an emergency meeting in around half an hour to discuss the plane’s disappearance, the French president’s office has said. President François Hollande has already spoken to his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Hollande’s office said, and the two countries would be cooperating to establish the circumstances of the plane’s disappearance.

According to EgyptAir, the plane took off from Paris’ Charles De Gaulle Airport shortly after 11pm local time.

Three of those on board were children, including one infant, and three of the crew members were security personnel, EgyptAir reported.

Among the passengers were 30 Egyptians, 15 French, two Iraqis, and one each from the UK, Belgium, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Chad, Portugal, Algeria and Canada.

Early Thursday morning, the plane disappeared from radar, the airline tweeted. The Airbus A320 was flying at 37,000 feet when it disappeared 16km after entering Egyptian airspace, the airline said.

Source: aljazeera.com
Source: aljazeera.com

Egypt and Greece have launched maritime searches for missing flight, The Egyptian Army said.

Aviation experts said the plane probably lost contact with ground radar above the Mediterranean Sea.

“Apparently it was just short of Egyptian airspace, so it was likely over the Mediterranean, because the Greek airspace joins the Egyptian airspace around that area,” aviation safety consultant Keith Mackey told Al Jazeera, “So that is probably where they will be looking.”

“Egypt air should know exactly where the plane disappeared from radar,” he said, “That would be the point where you begin your search. And its very likely that that point is over the Mediterranean.”

“As day light comes, no doubt they will have airplanes and ships searching the area. If it crashed, it should not take long to find it in that area.”

“When a plane disappears suddenly like this you certainly can not rule out terrorism or an explosion onboard the aircraft,” Mackey said.

This is not the first air-safety crisis Egypt has faced recently.

In March, a domestic EgyptAir flight was hijacked and forced to land in Cyprus.

On October 31 last year, Russia-bound Metrojet Flight 9268, operated by Russian airline Kogalymavia, crashed in the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt , killing all 224 people on board.

According to The Guardian : It says flight MS804 lost contact with radar at 02:45 Cairo time. The plane was at 37,000 ft and disappeared 80 miles (around 10 minutes) before entering Egyptian airspace. Search and rescue teams are being assembled.

Source: aljazeera.com theguardian.com

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