As confirmed by the airline on Twitter, an EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo went off the radar on Thursday morning. The flight had 59 passengers and 10 crew members aboard.
Further tweets in Arabic said contact was lost at 02.45 Cairo time, when the plane was just inside Egyptian airspace and at an altitude of 37,000 feet (11,000 metres).
Ahram, an Egypt-based newspaper, quoted an airport official as saying that the pilot had not sent a distress signal before it disappeared and that the last contact with the plane was 10 minutes before it vanished.
Meanwhile, an Airbus spokesperson, Jacques Rocca said that the company was aware of the disappearance but had no official information “at this stage of the certitude of an accident.”
Greece is also participating in the search and rescue operation for the missing EgyptAir flight. Helicopters are on standby on the southern island of Karpathos for potential rescue or recovery operations.
The Hellenic National Defense General Staff said one frigate is also heading to the area where the plane disappeared and is about 100 nautical miles or 4 hours away at this time.
An official statement released by EgyptAir said that the passengers included one child and two babies. It also added, on its Twitter feed, that the aircraft commander has 6275 of flying hours including 2101 flying hours on Airbus 320 and that the co-pilot has 2766 flying hours. The manufacturing date of the aircraft was in 2003.
EgyptAir has offered toll-free numbers for passengers’ relatives in its Twitter feed: 080077770000 from any landline in Egypt and +202 25989320 from any mobile phone or from outside Egypt.
Flightradar24, an app that tracks air traffic in real time, tweeted an image of what it believes to be the last received position of the MS804 flight.
This is not a lone incident, as this disappearance comes a month after an Egyptian man hijacked an EgyptAir plane in March. The flight, from Alexandria to Cairo, which was hijacked was forced to divert to Cyprus, where the “unstable” hijacker demanded to see his ex-wife.
He surrendered after a six-hour airport standoff, which ended peacefully.
This incident once again questions the security at Egyptian airports. A few months ago an incident involving a Russian aircraft that crashed over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, minutes after it took off from Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh had lead to a debate regarding security issues.
With inputs from agencies