Missing EgyptAir flight may be work of terrorists; no sign of survivors

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An EgyptAir jetliner en route from Paris to Cairo with 66 people aboard swerved wildly in flight and crashed in the Mediterranean Sea early Thursday, authorities said. Egyptian and Russian officials said it may have been brought down by terrorists.

There were no signs of survivors.

EgyptAir Flight 804, an Airbus A320 with 56 passengers and 10 crew members, went down about halfway between the Greek island of Crete and Egypt’s coastline, or around 175 miles offshore, after takeoff from Charles de Gaulle Airport, authorities said.

A later Tweet by EgyptAir said the plane, which was travelling at an altitude of 37,000 feet, disappeared about 80 miles before it was due to enter Egyptian airspace.

Key facts about Airbus 320:

* The Airbus A320 is generally considered one of the safest passenger planes in service. A Boeing safety analysis in early 2015 said the A320 registered just 0.14 fatal accidents per million takeoffs.

* The first A320 entered service in 1988.

* There are nearly 4,000 A320s in operation worldwide.

* Airbus, a European plane-making group based in Toulouse, France, also makes nearly identical versions of the A320- the smaller A318 and A319 and the stretched A321. The entire fleet has accumulated nearly 180 million flight hours in over 98 million flights.

* The plane is certified to fly up to 39,000 feet, its maximum altitude before its rate of climb begins to erode. The plane has an absolute flight limit of 42,000 feet.

Here are the updates (all times in IST)

4.17 am: EgyptAir Vice President Ahmed Adel told CNN that the wreckage had not been found.

“We stand corrected on finding the wreckage because what we identified is not a part of our plane. So the search and rescue is still going on,” Adel said.

02.22 am: The ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee told the Associated Press that there are conflicting reports about the conduct of the EgyptAir plane during its last minutes of flight, and there is nothing yet to confirm whether terrorism, structural failure or something else is the cause.

02.19 am: A U.S. review of satellite imagery so far has not produced any signs of an explosion aboard the EgyptAir flight that crashed on Thursday en route from Paris to Cairo, officials from multiple U.S. agencies told Reuters.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said the conclusion was the result of a preliminary examination of imagery and cautioned against media reports suggesting the United States believed a bomb was responsible for the crash.

The United States has not ruled out any possible causes for the crash, including mechanical failure, terrorism or a deliberate act by the pilot or crew, they said.

02.01 am: France is sending three investigators to Cairo along with a technical expert from Airbus, to join the probe into the missing flight, Transport Minister Alain Vidalies said.

02.00 am: Alexander Bortnikov, chief of Russia’s top domestic security agency, also said — “In all likelihood it was a terror attack.”

There was no immediate claim from militants that they had downed the plane.

01.56 am: Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi cautioned that the disaster was still under investigation but said the possibility it was a terror attack “is higher than the possibility of having a technical failure.”

01.48 am: Greek air safety authorities deny EgyptAir wreckage found. The head of the Greek air safety authority said that wreckage found in the Mediterranean “does not come from a plane”.

“Up to now the analysis of the debris indicates that it does not come from a plane, my Egyptian counterpart also confirmed to me that it was not yet proven that the debris came from the EgyptAir flight when we were last in contact around 1745 GMT,” Athanasios Binis told AFP, after the airline said Egyptian officials had confirmed the wreckage found near a Greek island was from the ill-fated flight.

01.21 am: Egyptian and Russian officials believe the flight may have been brought down by terrorists, reports Associated Press.

01.19 am: In a statement issued by his office, Sisi also ordered an investigative committee formed by the civil aviation ministry to immediately start investigating the causes of the plane’s disappearance.

01.14 am: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has ordered the civil aviation ministry, the army’s search and rescue centre, the navy, and the air force to take all necessary measures to locate debris

01.00 am: Two Canadian citizens were on board the EgyptAir jet that disappeared from the radar en route from Paris to Cairo, the Canadian government said on Thursday.

Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion said that Canadian officials were working with authorities to confirm whether there were any other Canadian citizens on board.

21.40 pm: Greece will scale back search and rescue assets deployed to find the airliner, two Greek government sources said.

20.54 hours: Egypt will lead the official committee investigating the disappearance of the flight, the head of Egypt’s Air Accidents Investigation department said.

The committee will also include France, which is both the manufacturing country of the Airbus 320 and the country with the second-largest number of victims on board after Egypt.

19.28 hours: Aircraft debris was found in the southern Mediterranean by Greek authorities searching for a missing EgyptAir aircraft which vanished from radar screens early Thursday, Greek state tv reported. Earlier, Greek officials said pieces of plastic were found in the sea some 230 miles south of the island of Crete, and two lifevests which appeared to be from an aircraft.

Seven in ten Americans say crime is rising in US: Gallup

WASHINGTON: Seven in 10 Americans say there is more crime in the US now than there was 12 ...

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