Thursday morning saw tragedy when 56 passengers and 10 crew members aboard an EgyptAir flight enroute from Paris to Cairo crashed into the Mediterranean sea after it disappeared from radar just 280 kilometers (175 miles) from its destination.
According to Egyptian aviation officials, the aircraft sent a distress signal at 0226 GMT. Merely 10 minutes later, air officials lost all connection with the plane. EgyptAir’s official Twitter page posted that the plane was flying at a height of 37,000 feet at the time contact was broken.
An informed source at EGYPTAIR stated that Flight no MS804,which departed Paris at 23:09 (CEST),heading to Cairo has disappeared from radar.
— EGYPTAIR (@EGYPTAIR) May 19, 2016
Upon receiving the distress signal, Egyptian search and rescue teams were deployed to search the seas for any signs of the jet. A spokesperson for EgyptAir said the search was focused on an area north of the Egyptian coast, however he did not specify a particular location.
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) May 19, 2016
EgyptAir reported the nationalities of the passengers as follows: 15 French, 30 Egyptian, one British, one Belgian, two Iraqis, one Kuwaiti, one Saudi, one Sudanese, one Chadian, one Portugese, one Algerian and one Canadian. Among the 56 passengers were one child and two infants.
There were an additional 10 people aboard of whom seven were flight and crew members and three were security personnel, said EgyptAir.
The pilot of flight MS804, an Airbus A320-232, had clocked in 6,275 hours of flying time while the co-pilot had 2,766 hours. Due to the pilots’ vast experience, fears of the cause behind the crash immediately turned to terror. The Times of Israel reported. Both France and Egypt have been the site of Islamic jihad attacks in the past year, lending substantial support to such suspicions.
No theory can be ruled out,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said in response to speculations. But EgyptAir warned media sources not to give validity to such conjecture, saying “the company confirms that the reason of disappearance hasn’t been yet confirmed.”
Sherif Ismael, Egypt’s Prime Minister, was “presented with a detailed briefing about the situation from the crisis team” and has since “directed all the concerned authorities to take all necessary action” to resolve this urgent matter, according to EgyptAir.
Relatives of MS804 passengers were provided with toll-free numbers they could call from landlines and mobile phones for updates from Egyptian crisis authorities who have assured they will notify EgyptAir with any new information as it becomes available. Further, EgyptAir has provided the family members with “doctors, translators, and all the necessary services” to comfort them at this time.
EgyptAir also made headlines in March when a lone hijacker threatened passengers aboard flight MS181 and forced an emergency landing in Cyprus. The hijacker, who was later identified as Seif Eldin Mustafa, surrendered to authorities shortly thereafter.