An EgyptAir plane that disappeared from radar early Thursday morning is believed to have crashed, Egyptian aviation officials tell The Associated Press.
EgyptAir Flight MS804 went missing while flying from Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris, France, to Cairo, Egypt, the airline said.
The flight left late Wednesday night Paris time.
There was no distress call before the flight went missing from radar. Officials said search and rescue teams, from both Greece and Egypt, have reached the last known location of the plane and are searching for debris.
Search teams have picked up a post-crash signal from an emergency beacon, EgyptAir said.
This story is still developing. Here’s what you need to know:
1. There Were 56 Passengers & 10 Crew on the Plane
The airline says there are 56 passengers and 10 crew onboard the Airbus A320-232 plane. The passengers include 53 adults, two infants and one child. The crew includes two cockpit crew, five cabin crew and three security guards.
EgyptAir tweeted the nationalities of the passengers, which include 30 Egyptians, 15 French and two Iraqis. There is one person on board from each of the following nations: Britain, Belgium, Sudan, Chad, Portugal, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Canada.
An EgyptAir representative told CNN that the pilot has 6,000 flying hours and the first officer has 4,000 flying hours.
EgyptAir previously said there were 69 people on board.
The plane departed from Paris at 11:09 p.m. local time. It was expected to arrive in Cairo at 3:15 a.m. local time. The plane disappeared at about 2:30 a.m. local time. The airline initially said the plane went missing at 2:45 a.m. local time and it was supposed to arrive at 3:05 a.m.
Online radar from Flight Radar 24 shows the plane’s last known location as over the Mediterranean Sea.
You can see the plane’s flight path here.
Read more about EgyptAir MS804 in Spanish at AhoraMismo.com:
2. The Plane Disappeared 175 Miles From the Egyptian Coast & a Ship Captain Says He Saw a ‘Flame in the Sky’
EgyptAir says Flight MS804 lost contact with radar above the Mediterranean Sea at about 175 miles, or 280km, from the Egyptian seacoast, at 2:30 a.m. local time.
A ship captain in the Mediterranean told the Greek defense ministry he saw a “flame in the sky” about 130 nautical miles south of the island of Karpathos, The Telegraph reports.
The airline said in a previous tweet, which was also in Arabic, that the plane lost contact with radar at 02:45 Cairo time at a height of 37,000 feet. EgyptAir initially said the plane was 80 miles, or 10 minutes, from Egyptian airspace. It later said the plane was 10 miles into Egyptian airspace.
“They did not radio for help or lose altitude. They just vanished,” Ehab Mohy el-Deen, head of the Egyptian air navigation authority, told the New York Times.
Authorities said air traffic controllers last spoke to the cockpit over Greece and then lost contact.
Panos Kammenos, Greece’s defense minister, told the Associated Press the plane made abrupt turns and suddenly lost altitude before vanishing.
Kammenos said the plane made a 90-degree left turn, then a full 360-degree turn toward the right, before dropping to 15,000 feet. It was lost at about 10,000 feet.
Weather conditions were good at the time of the crash.
3. Egyptian Authorities Say There Is a ‘Higher Possibility’ of a Terror Attack Than Technical Failure
The cause of the crash, whether it was a technical issue, a terrorist attack or another cause, has not yet been determined, authorities say.
French President Francois Hollande said, “We will draw conclusions when we have the truth about what happened. Whether it was an accident, or whether it was – and it’s something that is on our minds – terrorism.”
Egypt’s Civil Aviation Minister, Sherif Fathi, told the Associated Press, “The possibility of having a different action or a terror attack is higher than the possibility of having a technical failure.”
EgyptAir has set-up free contact numbers for families of passengers: “080077770000 from any landline in Egypt and + 202 25989320 outside Egypt or any mobile in Egypt.”
“EGYPTAIR has hosted the passengers’ families near to Cairo Airport and has provided doctors, translators and all the necessary services,” the airline said in a tweet.
Family members have also arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.
According to The Guardian, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told RTL Radio, “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.”
A crisis center has been set up.
“Too soon to point in any one direction but it’s at a very safe point in flight at cruise altitude so this is very ominous,” aviation analyst Peter Goelz told CNN. “Egyptians do have the resources, they’re perfectly capable of conducting the investigation, it will be a matter of pride and they’ll take the lead.”
Security has been tight at the French airport since the terror attacks in Paris in November.
“We would be extremely surprised and concerned if there had been a security breach at Charles de Gaulle (airport),” a French official told The Telegraph. “We believe that is highly unlikely.”
4. The Plane Is More Than 12 Years Old & Was in Its 5th Flight of the Day
The plane, an Airbus A320, was built in France and delivered in 2003 and is 12 years and 9 months old, according to JetPhotos.net. You can see a photo of the missing plane above.
It’s registration is SU-GCC.
The plane flew from Cairo to Paris earlier on May 18 and was making a return trip, according to FlightRadar24. You can see its full flight history here.
The plane had also flown from Asmara, Eritrea, where it had been overnight, to Cairo, and then from Cairo to Tunis, Tunisia. From there, it flew back to Cairo and then to Paris.
Routine maintenance checks were performed on the plane before the final flight from Paris to Cairo, officials told CNN.
5. An EgyptAir Flight Was Hijacked Earlier This Year
An EgyptAir flight from Alexandria to Cairo was hijacked in March.
EgyptAir Flight 181 was hijacked by a lone man, who claimed to have an explosive belt, on March 29.
The plane landed in Cyprus at Larnaca International Airport and no one on board was injured.
The hijacker, Seif Eddin Mustafa, was seeking asylum in Cyprus and was taken into custody without incident after landing. The belt did not contain explosives. His motive was later determined to be connected to his ex-wife. Officials said he was an “idiot,” not a terrorist.
The hijacking came just months after a Russian commercial plane crashed in Egypt. Metrojet Flight 9268, an Airbus321, disintgrated above Sinai after departing from Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport. It was heading to Pulkovo Airport in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Russian officials have said a bomb on board the plane caused the crash, but Egyptian authorities have not confirmed that and have so far said there were no links to terrorism, according to The Atlantic.