Missing EgyptAir plane: No theory ruled out for now
AN EGYPTAIR plane with 66 people on board disappeared from radar screens yesterday morning while flying to Cairo from France and might have crashed into the Mediterranean Sea after entering Egyptian airspace, media reported.
Flight MS804, which used an Airbus 320, was carrying 56 passengers, in addition to its seven-member crew and three security persons, the Lebanon-based An-Nahar newspaper quoted the Egyptian national airline as saying.
The passengers comprised 30 Egyptians, 15 French, four other Westerners and seven non-Egyptian Arabs, according to An-Nahar.
An EgyptAir spokesman said the whereabouts of the plane and the reason for its disappearance were not known as of yesterday.
A source told the media that the plane disappeared from Greek radar screens at around 2.45am local time and might have crashed about 210km from Greece's Karpathos island, which lies between the islands of Rhodes and Crete.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said in Paris yesterday that "no theory can be ruled out" on the disappearance, reported the France24 television channel.
In Cairo, Egyptian Prime Minister Sharif Ismail said it was premature to rule out any possible causes, including terrorism.
He added that that conclusion would be made only after all the relevant data and probe findings were put together.
Egypt and Greece yesterday sent aircraft and boats to the Mediterranean to search for the plane and possible survivors.
EgyptAir said in its Twitter account that the plane took off from Paris at 22.45pm and was to arrive in Cairo at 3.05am.
It disappeared 11km above ground and about 280km from the coast of Egypt, it added.
Experts said the failure of the pilots to send a distress call suggested he had met an emergency and was too shocked to react.
The pilot had clocked up 6,275 hours of flying experience while the first officer had 2,766 hours, the airline said.
Under United Nations aviation rules, Egypt will automatically lead an investigation into the accident assisted by concerned countries such as France, said Reuters.
Egypt's tourism industry was badly hit following the downing of an Airbus A321 operated by Russia's Metrojet last year and a string of bomb attacks in the country.
The downing, which killed all 224 people on board, is suspected to have been the work of Islamist insurgents in Sinai.
Islamist militants have stepped up attacks on Egyptian soldiers and police since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi toppled Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in 2013 in a military coup.