EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo vanishes over sea; Investigators ‘rule out’ nothing

An EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo carrying 56 passengers and 10 crew crashed in the Mediterranean sea early Thursday morning, according to a Greek airport source.

According to a list provided by EgyptAir, the 56 passengers on the plane included 30 Egyptians, 15 French, two Iraqis and one passenger each from the United Kingdom, Belgium, Chad, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Portugal, Algeria, Canada and Kuwait.

EgyptAir Flight 804 was flying at 37,000 feet when it lost contact above the Mediterranean Sea, the airline tweeted.

French President Francois Hollande said the plane had “crashed,” but gave no more details on what could have brought the plane down.

Aviation officials in Egypt and Europe said there was nothing immediately pointing to why the plane lost contact with radar tracking about 45 minutes before its scheduled landing in Cairo.

“No hypothesis is favored or ruled out at this stage,” said the French statement.

“We cannot rule anything out,” Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail told reporters at Cairo airport.

Somber relatives gathered in Cairo and Paris airports, seeking word on their loved ones. They were ferried to special centers at both airports, where translators and psychiatric support awaited.

Unidentified relatives and friends of passengers who were flying in an EgyptAir plane that vanished from radar en route from Paris to Cairo react as they wait outside Cairo International Airport, Egypt. Photo: REUTERS/AMR ABDALLAH DALSH

Unidentified relatives and friends of passengers on EgyptAir plane wait outside Cairo International Airport, Egypt May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

The Greek military and Egyptian navy have joined in the massive search and rescue operation for the missing EgyptAir flight. Greece said it sent two aircraft — a C-130 and an early-warning aircraft — to the area.

Greek authorities have mounted a search in the area south of the island of Karpathos without result so far, he added. Meanwhile The Paris prosecutors office also opened an investigation into the disappearance of EgyptAir Flight 804.

The Greek defence ministry has said EgyptAir Flight 804 was flying at 37,000 feet in Egyptian airspace when it made sudden swerves. Greece has also requested assistance on satellite information.

“At 3:39am the course of the aircraft was south and south-east of Kassos and Karpathos (islands)… immediately after it entered Cairo (airspace) and made swerves… 90 degrees left and then 360 degrees to the right,” Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said.

A major search is under way in seas south of the Greek island of Karpathos.

Greek and Egyptian armed forces are involved in the effort, and France has offered to send boats and planes.