UPDATE: 6:37 a.m. EDT — French President François Hollande has confirmed the missing EgyptAir Flight 804 had crashed into the sea, but no theory on the cause has been excluded so far. “The information we have gathered — ministers, members of government and, of course, the Egyptian authorities — confirm, sadly, that it has crashed. It is lost,” Hollande said, according to the BBC.
Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, meanwhile, said that the plane made “sudden swerves” at 37,000 feet, according to Reuters. “The picture we have at the moment on missing EgyptAir aircraft is that it was in Egypt airspace at 37,000 feet and made a sudden swerve,” Kammenos said.
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UPDATE: 6:15 a.m. EDT — The head of Greece’s air traffic control board told the Guardian the missing EgyptAir Flight 804 had most probably crashed into the sea while refusing to exclude any possibilities as to the cause.
“I consider it a fact that the plane has crashed. There is no chance of it still being in the air,” Serafeim Petrou told the Guardian, adding: “Most probably, and very unfortunately, it is at the bottom of the sea.”
Stating that radar contact with the plane was lost 18.5 kilometers (about 11.5 miles) south of Greece’s airspace over the Mediterranean, Petrou said: “An explosion could be a possibility but, then, so could damage to the fuselage. I think at this point we are talking about wreckage, wreckage at the bottom of the sea and tracing the cause is going to take time.”
UPDATE: 5:42 a.m. EDT — Egyptian public prosecutor Nabil Sadek has ordered an inquiry into the disappearance of EgyptAir Flight 804, BBC reported, citing al-Tahrir. The plane, carrying 66 passengers, went off radar Thursday over the Mediterranean Sea after it entered Egyptian airspace.
Meanwhile, Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said it was too early to rule out any cause for the plane's disappearance. “We cannot exclude anything at this time or confirm anything. All the search operations must be concluded so we can know the cause,” he said, according to the Guardian.
Families of the plane's passengers were seen consoling each other at Cairo International Airport, according to reports, and EgyptAir was reportedly making arrangements for relatives to travel to Egypt.
“It’s a moment of intense emotion, the relatives here have learnt of the disappearance of a flight that went missing 20 minutes before landing. And they are without any news [of their family members],” French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, BBC reported.
UPDATE: 5:31 a.m. EDT — The French military said a Falcon surveillance jet patrolling the Mediterranean Sea for refugees has been diverted to help search for the missing EgyptAir Flight MS804.
Military spokesman Col. Gilles Jaron told the Associated Press that the jet is joining the search operation led by Egypt and that the French navy is likely to send another plane and a ship to the area to assist in the search.
And as the search continues, more details have emerged about the plane. Insurer XL Catlin is the main underwriter and Marsh is the broker for the EgyptAir aircraft that disappeared from radar shortly after entering Egyptian airspace, insurance industry sources told Reuters Thursday. Authorities at XL Catlin and Marsh declined to comment over the plane's disappearance, Reuters reported.
UPDATE: 4:14 a.m. EDT — Airbus issued a statement Thursday saying it “regrets to confirm the loss” of EgyptAir Flight 804, which disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea shortly after entering Egyptian airspace.
“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,” the aerospace company said in the statement posted on Facebook.
In a separate development, European air traffic network manager Eurocontrol reportedly said that there were no weather problems when Flight MS804, which was carrying 66 people onboard, went missing.
“There is no significant impact on traffic at present, although there is Search and Rescue activity in the area,” Eurocontrol said in a statement, cited by Reuters.
There has been no confirmation about the fate of the plane but conflicting reports have emerged. Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported, citing a Greek aviation source, that the plane crashed into the sea off the southern Greek island of Karpathos while it was in Egyptian airspace.
“At around 0029 GMT (8:29 p.m. EDT) when it was in Egyptian airspace, the plane disappeared from Greek radars... it crashed around 130 nautical miles off the island of Karpathos,” the source told AFP.
Earlier in the day, Egyptian aviation officials told the Associated Press that the “possibility that the plane crashed has been confirmed,” as the aircraft did not land at any nearby airports. They added that the search for the debris was underway. However, Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail has said that it was “too early” to officially confirm what happened to Flight MS804.
Conflicting reports have emerged on the fate of EgyptAir Flight 804, which disappeared off the radar early Thursday while on its way to Cairo. The Airbus A320 carried 66 people and originated from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.
Egyptian aviation officials told the Associated Press (AP) that the plane had crashed, but reports citing Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said that it was “too early” to officially confirm what happened to Flight 804.
Officials told the AP on conditions of anonymity that the “possibility that the plane crashed has been confirmed,” as the aircraft did not land in any of the nearby airports. They added that search for the debris was underway.
Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail reached at EgyptAir’s emergency operations center to supervise the situation, the EgyptAir said.
The flight disappeared about 174 miles from the Egyptian coast at 2:30 a.m., local time (8:30 p.m. EDT), and it was to arrive at Cairo International Airport at 9:15 p.m. EDT. EgyptAir said that the plane carried 30 Egyptian, 15 French and two Iraqi citizens, and one each from Britain, Belgium, Canada, Sudan, Chad, Portugal, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The French foreign ministry reportedly confirmed Thursday that 15 of its citizens were traveling on the missing EgyptAir flight.
The airliner said that emergency devices of the missing Flight MS804 sent a distress call, which was received at 4:26 a.m., local time (10:26 p.m. EDT), but reports said that alert could have been an automated one. Initial reports had said that no distress signal was sent out from the missing plane that went off radar somewhere near Greece.
Meanwhile, search operation is underway. Greece has joined the operation and France will investigate the disappearance of Flight 804. France has also set up a crisis unit led by President François Hollande, according to reports.
France reportedly offered to send military planes and boats to join the search. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said that the government was in constant touch with Egyptian officials following the disappearance.
“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 reportedly said.
Although the cause of the disappearance has yet to be ascertained, a CNN meteorologist said weather did not play a part. CNN’s Pedram Javaheri said while “initially there was a storm behind the aircraft, it stayed ahead of the storm, weather didn't play a role.”
However, he noted that a storm system off North Africa “could affect the search.”
The disappearance of the plane comes about two months after a different EgyptAir jet was hijacked. Suspect Seif Eldin Mustafa, 58, was arrested at the time after he forced the plane to stop in Cyprus.