Egyptian Officials Raise Possibility of Terrorism in Missing Plane



An EgyptAir flight en route to Cairo from Paris disappeared from radar today, with Egyptian officials suggesting the incident was more likely caused by terrorism than a technical problem.

“If you analyze the situation properly, the possibility … of having a terror attack is higher than having a technical” failure, the Egyptian aviation minister told reporters today.

The flight went missing about 174 miles off the Egyptian coast, shortly after entering Egyptian airspace, the airline said overnight.

French President Francois Hollande, speaking at the Elysee Palace in Paris, told a news conference that authorities there fear the flight with 66 people aboard had crashed, but said it was too soon to speculate on the cause.

“When we have the truth we need to draw all the conclusions,” Hollande said. “At this stage, we must give priority to solidarity toward the families” of the victims.

According to the airline, 56 passengers, three EgyptAir security personnel and seven crew members were aboard the aircraft, an Airbus A320 manufactured in 2003.

PHOTO: A relative of the victims of the EgyptAir flight 804 that crashed, reacts as she makes a phone call at Charles de Gaulle Airport outside of Paris, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Michel Euler/AP
A relative of the victims of the EgyptAir flight 804 that crashed, reacts as she makes a phone call at Charles de Gaulle Airport outside of Paris, Thursday, May 19, 2016.more +

EgyptAir flight 804’s 56 passengers included one child and two infants, the airline said.

There were no Americans onboard, according to the airline.

The nationalities of those onboard is as follows: French, 15: Egyptian, 30; British, 1; Belgium, 1; Iraqi, 2; Kuwaiti, 1; Saudi, 1; Sudanese, 1; Chadian, 1; Portuguese, 1; Algerian, 1; and Canadian, 1.

Grieving relatives of passengers gathered at the Cairo International Airport in Egypt this morning, awaiting word on their missing loved ones.

PHOTO: An EgyptAir flight en route to Cairo from Paris disappeared from radar over the Mediterranean Sea about 174 miles from the Egyptian coast.ABCNews
An EgyptAir flight en route to Cairo from Paris disappeared from radar over the Mediterranean Sea about 174 miles from the Egyptian coast.more +
PHOTO: Relatives of passengers on a vanished EgyptAir flight grieve as they leave the in-flight service building where they were held at Cairo International Airport, Egypt May 19, 2016. Amr Nabil/AP
Relatives of passengers on a vanished EgyptAir flight grieve as they leave the in-flight service building where they were held at Cairo International Airport, Egypt May 19, 2016.more +

EgyptAir flight 804 left Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport at 11:09 p.m. It lost contact with the radar tracking system over the Mediterranean Sea at 2:45 a.m. at 37,000 feet, after entering Egyptian airspace, the airline said. The flight was expected to arrive at 3:15 a.m. (France and Egypt are in the same time zone.)

Official at the Greek Ministry of Defense told ABC News that EgyptAir pilot made a 90-degree turn to the left and then a 360-degree maneuver as he was losing around 20,000 feet in altitude just before contact was lost with the plane.

About four hours after news of the missing plane was reported, EgyptAir tweeted that military search-and-rescue received a distress call from the airplane emergency equipment.

A Greek National Defense spokesman told ABC News that Greek air traffic control lost contact with the flight as it was entering Egyptian airspace at 3:29 a.m. Athens Time (1 hour ahead of Paris and Cairo time), and alerted the Egyptian authorities.

The French government says President Hollande spoke with Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi by telephone, and they agreed to “closely cooperate to establish the circumstances” under which the EgyptAir flight disappeared.

In a written statement, the government statement cited Hollande as saying he shares the anxiety of families.

Airbus confirmed the loss of its plane in a statement early this morning. The company added that the missing aircraft had accumulated about 48,000 flight hours.


EgyptAir said on Twitter that the pilot has 6,275 of flying hours, including 2,101 flying hours on the Airbus 320. The co-pilot has 2,766 flying hours.

Egyptian Armes Forces rescue teams have been deployed, the airline said.

Greece has also joined the search and rescue operation for the EgyptAir flight, dispatching two airplanes and one warship to the search area, a Greek National Defense spokesman told ABC News, adding that two helicopters are in readiness, in case any passengers are found.

EgyptAir tweeted it “has hosted the passengers’ families near to Cairo Airport and has provided doctors, translators and all the necessary services.”


The U.S. Embassy in Cairo tweeted, “We are tracking reports of missing #EgyptAir flight #MS804, and our thoughts are with the relatives of passengers at this time.”


This is a developing story. Please check back in for updates.

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