Search and rescue missions from Greece, Egypt and France are currently underway in the eastern Mediterranean near the Greek island of Karpathos in efforts to locate an EgyptAir plane that went missing half an hour before its scheduled arrival in Cairo earlier today.
EgyptAir Flight MS804 departed from the Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris on Thursday morning heading to Cairo. The plane came in routine contact with air controllers in Athens and minutes later disappeared from the radars in clear weather some 10 miles into Egyptian airspace.
Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos told a press conference earlier that the plane made two sharp turns before vanishing from the radars.
“The plane carried out a 90-degree turn to the left and a 360-degree turn to the right, falling from 37,000 to 15,000 feet and the signal was lost at around 10,000 feet,” Minister Kammenos said.
A total of 66 people were on board the 2003 Airbus A320 – 56 passengers and 10 crew members.
Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said it was too early to rule out any explanation, while Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi has refrained from making any comments as to the causes behind the disappearance without ruling out however terrorism or technical problems.
French President Francois Hollande, meanwhile, confirmed that the airplane “came down and is lost” and that France has launched an investigation into the flight’s disappearance. “No hypothesis can be ruled out, nor can any be favored over another,” he said.
Among the passengers are 30 Egyptian nationals, 15 French, two Iraqis, and one each from Algeria, Britain, Belgium, Canada, Chad, Kuwait, Portugal, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.
In the meantime, the UK’s foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, expressed his deep concern after confirming on Twitter that a British passport holder was on board the Airbus.
The vanishing plane comes as another blow to Egypt’s tourism sector, which has seen tourist numbers dwindle after the downing of a Russian jet last October in Sinai, killing all 224 people on board.