EgyptAir flight carrying 66 crashes over the Mediterranean Sea; terrorism suspected

CCTV News

Mideast Egypt Plane This is a April 2014 image of an EgyptAir Airbus A320 with the registration SU-GCC taking off from Istanbul Atatürk Airport, Turkey. Egyptian aviation officials said on Thursday May 19, 2016 that an EgyptAir flight MS804 with the registration SU-GCC, travelling from Paris to Cairo with 66 passengers and crew on board has crashed. (AP Photo/ Ahmet Akin Diler)

Egyptian officials said EgyptAir flight 804 crashed early Thursday into the Mediterranean Sea after swerving wildly, and that it may have been a terrorist attack.


Families and friends wait for news about EgyptAir flight 804’s passengers

At least three were of the 66 passengers on the EgyptAir flight were children.
CCTV’s Kate Parkinson reports from Paris at the Charles de Gaulle Airport – where the flight took off.

Follow Kate Parkinson on Twitter @katecctvnews

Families and friends wait for news about EgyptAir flight 804's passengers

Families and friends wait for news about EgyptAir flight 804's passengers

At least three were of the 66 passengers on the EgyptAir flight were children. CCTV's Kate Parkinson reports from Paris at the Charles de Gaulle Airport - where the flight took off.

For the family members heading to Egypt this must be an impossibly difficult journey. They are taking the exact route their loved ones did. Flying over the sea where the doomed plane crashed. And there are still so many unanswered questions.


Families of EgyptAir flight victims flock to Cairo for answers

From the start, the outlook was bleak. CCTV’s Yasser Hakim reports from Cairo.

Families of EgyptAir flight victims flock to Cairo for answers

Families of EgyptAir flight victims flock to Cairo for answers

From the start, the outlook was bleak. CCTV's Yasser Hakim reports from Cairo.

MS804 dropped off the radar just as it entered Egyptian airspace, at a height of more than 11 kilometers.

There’d been no warning from the crew that anything was wrong. Greek aviation officials said the plane made two sharp turns – before plunging into the sea.

Thirty of the passengers were Egyptian, 15 of them French, the remainder included people from Chad, Sudan and Algeria. A joint maritime operation was underway to hunt for what’s left of the plane.


Michael Planey on the crash of EgyptAir 804
For more, CCTV America spoke with Michael Planey, an airline technology consultant at HMPlaney Consultants.


Seth Kaplan on #MS804
For more on the disappearance of EgyptAir flight MS804, CCTV America spoke with Seth Kaplan, managing partner of Airline Weekly magazine.


The latest news on the missing EgyptAir Flight 804 from Paris to Cairo, carrying 66 people. All times local:

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8:55 p.m.

A senior Greek air safety official said the debris found so far in the Mediterranean Sea does not belong to an aircraft.

But Athanassios Binis, head of Greece’s Air Accident Investigation and Aviation Safety Board, told state ERT TV that “an assessment of the finds showed that they do not belong to an aircraft.” He said Thursday this has been confirmed by Egyptian authorities.

Greek military officials say a Greek C-130 military transport plane is still participating in the search for debris from the EgyptAir jet, but a frigate initially sent to the area has been recalled. The same officials said all potential debris located so far in the sea has been spotted by Egyptian aircraft.

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8:50 p.m.

Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion said two Canadians were on EgyptAir Flight 804, which crashed into the Mediterranean as it carried 66 passengers and crew from Paris to Cairo.

Dion said officials are providing consular assistance to the victims’ families and Canadian officials are working with authorities to confirm whether there were any additional Canadians on board.

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7:50 p.m.

John Goglia, a former U.S. National Transportation Safety Board member, said early indications point more to a bomb than to a structural or mechanical failure for EgyptAir Flight 804.

Goglia said “given the fact that (the pilot) made those abrupt turns without broadcasting any maydays would indicate to me that something catastrophic like a device happened.”

He said a mechanical failure “still has to be considered, but at this point I would put that down pretty low.” He likewise said that a structural failure, like a piece of the airplane’s aluminum skin ripping away from metal fatigue, is possible but unlikely.

He said “the recorders will tell us,” referring to the black boxes, the plane’s flight-data and cockpit-voice recorders that are a key part of nearly every crash investigation.

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7:30 p.m.

France’s BEA, or Accident Investigation Bureau which probes aircraft disasters, was sending a team of three investigators to Cairo, accompanied by a technical expert from Airbus, maker of the EgyptAir A320 plane that has crashed into the Mediterranean.

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.

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7:20 p.m.

The White House said it’s too early to say definitively what caused an EgyptAir flight to crash into the Mediterranean Sea.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said investigators will consider all factors and possibilities. He said nothing has been ruled in or out. Earnest said the U.S. is ready to help with the investigation and that the U.S. Navy is working to deploy a P-3 Orion aircraft in the search.

The White House said President Barack Obama is getting multiple updates about the crash. Earnest said the president is sending his prayers to families of those on the place, and that U.S. national security and aviation experts are in contact with their counterparts in France and Egypt to offer assistance.

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7:05 p.m.

Egypt’s Civil Aviation ministry said in a statement that “floating material,” including life jackets and plastic items, have been found in the sea off the Greek island of Karpathos, close to the suspected site of the EgyptAir plane crash.

The ministry said it is coordinating with Greek counterparts to examine what they have found and to determine whether the items could be part of the debris from the plane that crashed before dawn on Thursday while carrying 66 passengers and crew.


Images posted by Tarek Wahba on his Facebook page purport to show some of the found debris.

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6:55 p.m.

Procter & Gamble Co. said one of its employees was aboard the EgyptAir plane that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea.

The consumer products maker identified him as Ahmed Helal, manager of its plant in Amiens, France. He had held a variety of manager positions since joining P&G in his native Egypt in 2000. His LinkedIn profile said he earned a mechanical engineering degree from The American University in Cairo in 1999.

P&G spokesman Damon Jones said “we are in touch with the employee’s family and are offering them our full support during this difficult time.”

The Cincinnati-based company makes products such as Tide detergent and Pampers diapers.

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6:50 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expressing his “condolences to Egypt and to all other countries” affected by the disappearance of EgyptAir 804 over the Mediterranean.

Speaking Thursday at NATO headquarters outside of Brussels, Kerry said “the United States is providing assistance in the search effort and relevant authorities are doing everything they can to try to determine what the facts are of what happened.”

Egyptian officials say EgyptAir Flight 804 from Paris to Cairo crashed early Thursday into the sea with 66 people on board. Kerry refused to speculate on the cause of the crash and insisted he and other authorities did not know it yet.

He said “but we certainly extend our condolences to each and every country that has lost people and particularly to Egypt.”
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6:20 p.m.

Egyptian airport officials have identified two more victims from the EgyptAir plane that crashed in the Mediterranean.

They say that the sister-in-law of Hisham el-Maqawad, the deputy to the Egyptian ambassador in Paris, and Sahar al-Khawaga, a Saudi woman who works at the Saudi Embassy in Cairo, are among the victims of Thursday’s plane crash.

They say that al-Khawaga, who has worked at the diplomatic mission in the Egyptian capital for 13 years, was in Paris to follow up on her daughter’s medical treatment there.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity. 

—Maggie Michael in Cairo

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6:10 p.m.

Egypt’s former civil aviation minister said that if it’s confirmed the EgyptAir plane swerved before it crashed, this means that “something happened that forced the pilots to lose control over the plane.”

Mustafa Kamel told The Associated Press that the debris from the plane and the black box, if recovered, could help uncover “what happened that forced the pilot to lose control.”

He spoke on Thursday after authorities said that the jetliner bound from Paris to Cairo with 66 people aboard had made a mysterious series of extremely abrupt turns before crashing into the Mediterranean Sea.

Kamel said passenger planes are not designed to make a 360-degree swerves while in flight and that something like that is “disproportionate” to a passenger plane’s design.

He said that “these are not warplanes.”

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5:45 p.m.

A retired weapons developer said 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, said while it’s too early to tell for certain, a structural failure for the Airbus A320 plane is “vanishingly improbable.”

He said “a plane in straight and level flight at 37,000 feet is a pretty benign situation.”

Latiff said “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.

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5 p.m.

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.

Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said 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 said “we stand ready to offer further assistance” if needed.

Britain said one U.K. citizen was among the 66 people aboard the flight Thursday from Paris to Cairo.

 

4 p.m.

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.

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3:40 p.m.

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 gray 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.

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3:05 p.m.

A Greek military official said an Egyptian search plane has located two orange items believed to be from the missing EgyptAir flight.

The official said the items were found 230 miles (370 kilometers) 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 said “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 said 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

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2:50 p.m.

Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi said 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.

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2:30 p.m.

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 said 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.

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2:15 p.m.

Greece’s defense minister, Panos Kammenos, said 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.

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2:00 p.m.

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 said that he insists on saying “missing plane” until debris is found.

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1:05 p.m.

Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said 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 said: “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.

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1:00 p.m.

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 traveler, 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 center at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport for families of passengers of the missing plane.

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12:50 p.m.

Greece’s Civil Aviation Authority said 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 said 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.

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12:35 p.m.

French President Francois Hollande has confirmed the crash of the EgyptAir flight, and said no hypothesis is ruled out or preferred, including an accident or a terrorist act.

Hollande said: “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.

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12:30 p.m.

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 favored or ruled out at this stage.”

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11:55 a.m.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said “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 said French authorities are in direct contact with Greek and Egyptian authorities.

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10:45

The French military said 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.

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10:35 a.m.

Airbus said 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.”

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10:30 a.m.

The director of Greece’s Civil Aviation Authority said 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, 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 said controllers continued trying to contact the pilot until 3:39 a.m. Greek time (1239 GMT) when the plane disappeared from the radar.

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

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9:38 a.m.

France’s transport chief said 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.

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9:35 a.m.

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.

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9:30 a.m.

The spokesman of the Egyptian army, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Samir, said in a statement posted on the army’s official Facebook page that the army has not received any distress call from the missing plane.

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9:20 a.m.

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 said 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.”

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9:10 a.m.

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 center for relatives at the airport.

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8:30 a.m.

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.

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8:05 a.m.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said France is ready to join the search operation if Egyptian authorities request it.

Speaking on RTL radio, Valls said the Paris airport authority has opened a crisis center to support the families coming to Charles de Gaulle Airport.

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7:55 a.m.

The French government said President Francois Hollande spoke with Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi by telephone, and they agreed to “closely cooperate 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.

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7:50 a.m.

EgyptAir said 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.

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7:25 a.m.

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.

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6:55 a.m.

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.

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6:50 a.m.

The maker of the EgyptAir plane that has gone missing on a flight from Paris to Cairo said it’s unclear what happened.

Airbus spokesman Jacques Rocca said 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.

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6:45 a.m.

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 Defense 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.

Story by The Associated Press