EgyptAir plane goes missing in Mediterranean with 66 people on board

A relative of the victims of the EgyptAir flight 804 that crashed, reacts as she makes a phone call

A relative of the victims of the EgyptAir flight 804 that crashed, reacts as she makes a phone call at Charles de Gaulle Airport outside of Paris, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Egyptian aviation officials say an EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo with 66 passengers and crew on board has crashed. (AP Photo/Michel Euler) - Credit: AP

A passenger plane travelling from Paris to Cairo with 66 people including a Briton on board has crashed near the Greek Mediterranean island of Karpathos, according to reports.

A relative of the victims of the EgyptAir flight 804 is escorted at Charles de Gaulle Airport outsid

A relative of the victims of the EgyptAir flight 804 is escorted at Charles de Gaulle Airport outside of Paris, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Egyptian aviation officials say an EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo with 66 passengers and crew on board has crashed. (AP Photo/Michel Euler) - Credit: AP

EgyptAir Flight MS804 disappeared from radar 10 miles inside Egyptian air space at 2.30am Cairo time (1.30am BST) after taking off just under three-and-a-half hours earlier from Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Reports claim it crashed inside Egyptian airspace south west of Karpathos, which is around 50 miles east of Crete in the eastern Mediterranean.

Panos Kammenos, the Greek defence minister, said the aircraft made a series of sharp turns and plummeted thousands of feet through the air before disappearing.

He said: 'It turned 90 degrees left and then a 360-degree turn toward the right, dropping from 38,000 to 15,000 feet and then it was lost at about 10,000 feet.'

Relatives of passengers on a vanished EgyptAir flight grieve as they leave the in-flight service bui

Relatives of passengers on a vanished EgyptAir flight grieve as they leave the in-flight service building where they were held at Cairo International Airport, Egypt, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Egyptian aviation officials say an EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo with 66 passengers and crew on board has crashed. The officials say the search is now underway for the debris. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil) - Credit: AP


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French president Francois Hollande confirmed the aircraft had come down, saying: 'I have been informed that the aircraft that left Paris to go to Cairo has been lost. It crashed.'

He added that 'no hypothesis is excluded' in relation to the cause. Mr Hollande had earlier spoken with Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi by telephone, and they agreed to 'closely co-operate to establish the circumstances'.

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The UK Foreign Office said it was working with Egyptian and French authorities, with a spokesman adding: 'Our staff are in contact with the family of a British national believed to be on board and are providing support.'

A major search and rescue operation has been launched by Egyptian and Greek authorities to find the remains of the aircraft, with reports of a flash in the sky over the Mediterranean.

An EgyptAir aircraft. Photo: Andrew Milligan.

An EgyptAir aircraft. Photo: Andrew Milligan. - Credit: PA

Among those on board were a child and two babies, EgyptAir said.

The airline added that the country's prime minister Sherif Ismail had arrived at its Cairo Airport crisis centre and received a detailed briefing.

The airline said the 56 passengers included 30 Egyptians, 15 French, two Iraqis and one each from Britain, Sudan, Chad, Portugal, Algeria, Canada, Belgium, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Flight MS804 left Charles de Gaulle Airport at 11.09pm local time (10.09pm BST).

The track displayed on Flightradar24 showing the EgyptAir aircraft travelling from Paris to Cairo wi

The track displayed on Flightradar24 showing the EgyptAir aircraft travelling from Paris to Cairo with 66 people on board which has disappeared from radar 10 miles into Egyptian airspace. Photo: Flightradar24/PA Wire - Credit: PA

French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said France had offered military assistance to Egypt to help with the search.

There was confusion over whether a distress signal had been sent by the Airbus A320.

Egypt's civil aviation authority said one was received at 4.26am local time, believed to be an automated message rather than one sent by the pilot.

However the Egyptian military later said it had received no distress message from the aircraft, in a statement on its website.

Reporters gather in front of the EgyptAir counter at Charles de Gaulle Airport outside of Paris, Thu

Reporters gather in front of the EgyptAir counter at Charles de Gaulle Airport outside of Paris, Thursday, May 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Michel Euler) - Credit: AP

In March, a domestic EgyptAir flight with 72 passengers on board had to make an emergency diversion to Larnaca, Cyprus, after an alleged hijacking.

In October last year, 224 people were killed when a Russian aircraft crashed over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula minutes after it took off from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

EgyptAir has provided free contact numbers for families concerned for relatives. From outside Egypt, anyone concerned should call + 202 2598 9320.

Greek authorities have deployed two aircraft, a C-130 military plane and one early warning aircraft, the Hellenic National Defence General Staff said.

The EgyptAir in-flight service building where relatives are being held at Cairo International Airpor

The EgyptAir in-flight service building where relatives are being held at Cairo International Airport. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil) - Credit: AP

It also said a frigate was heading to the area and helicopters were on standby on Karpathos for potential rescue or recovery operations.

The Airbus A320 was built in 2003 and was flying at 37,000ft, the airline said on Twitter.

It tweeted that the pilot had logged 6,275 flying hours, including 2,101 hours on the A320, and the co-pilot had logged 2,766 hours.

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