The Airbus A320 going from Paris to Cairo with 66 people on board, disappeared from the radar screens of Greek and Egyptian air traffic controllers early Thursday. The EgyptAir jetliner jerked hard to the left, then hard to the right, circled and plunged 28,000 feet.
The New York Times informs that at least 30 of the passengers of crushed EgyptAir Flight 804 were Egyptian, others from Algeria, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Chad, France, Iraq, Kuwait, Portugal, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.
The incident started the whole day of rescue operations, contradictory information from officials and expert speculations about the fate of EgyptAir Flight 804.
The searchers found something rather similar to plane’s wreckage in the Mediterranean Sea. However, later officials reported that the findings didn’t come from the missing airliner. “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,” said Ahmed Adel, EgyptAir’s Vice Chairman, to CNN.
According to Adel, EgyptAir is not involved in the search so the main information comes from Greek authorities and the Egyptian military. Adel didn’t reveal any explanation why the debris found in the Mediterranean Sea was referred to the plane or how that information was gathered.
President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi ordered the armed forces to “take all measures necessary” to find the wreckage of EgyptAir Flight 804. The search work was started immediately “to unravel the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the Egyptian aircraft and establish its causes.”
Sherif Fathi, Egypt’s civil aviation minister, unveiled one of the versions of plane crash at a news conference. “If you analyze the situation properly, the possibility of having a terror attack is higher than the possibility of technical failure”, he said.
The French president, François Hollande, also admitted the possibility of terrorism after the phone call from President Sisi of Egypt. “The information that we have been able to gather — the prime minister, the members of the government, and, of course, the Egyptian authorities — unfortunately confirm for us that this plane crashed at sea and has been lost,” said Mr. Hollande.
EgyptAir informs that the pilot and co-pilot of EgyptAir Flight 804 are considered to be experienced fliers with no known political affiliations. They have approximately 9,000 hours of flying time between them.
As terrible news of the missing jetliner spread in Cairo, relatives of EgyptAir Flight 804 passengers rushed to the airport to get information. “Pray for them,” said a relative of a flight attendant who had just married. “We don’t know anything.”
The catastrophe becomes the second one happened in Egypt in the past seven months. In March, a hijacker wearing a fake explosives vest diverted an EgyptAir domestic flight to Cyprus. That incident came off well with the arrest of Seif Eldin Mustafa and no injuries. The hijacker, who is currently battling extradition to Egypt, was described as “psychologically disturbed.”
The current news from Egypt gives new rise to fears and speculation about the security and reliability of Egyptian aviation as well as the specter of a security breach in Paris, where the plane took off.