EgyptAir Crash ‘Almost Certainly Caused By An Attack’

EgyptAir plane missingPA

An EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo carrying 56 passengers and 10 crew members has crashed, French President Francois Hollande confirmed.

The Airbus A320 was flying at 37,000ft (11,300m) when it lost contact over the eastern Mediterranean, disappearing from radar at 2:45am Cairo time (12:45am GMT), the BBC reports.

There have been reports of debris, with Greek state broadcaster ERT stating two ‘orange-coloured objects’ have been found. An unnamed Greek military official told the Associated Press that orange objects were spotted 230 miles south-southeast of Crete, but still within the Egyptian air traffic control area. A Greek army general staff spokesman has confirmed this to Agence France-Presse.

Greece’s defence minister Panos Kammenos says Flight MS804 made ‘sudden swerves’ as it flew at 37,000 feet, before dropping off the radar.

Kammenos said data retrieved on Egyptair flight MS804 shows the plane made a 90 degree left hand turn then spiralled 360 degrees to the right as it dropped 22,000 feet.

Aviation analyst Paul Charles seems to think these movements suggest an incident in the cockpit.

He said:

What this does suggest is that it is more of an incident in the cockpit itself of that aircraft.

It does suggest it wasn’t necessarily blown out of the sky by a missile potentially… it wasn’t necessarily a device on board. It would suggest that the pilot has been involved in some way in an incident in the cockpit.

The Airbus A320 was about three hours and 40 minutes into the four-hour journey, over the Mediterranean Sea, when it lost contact.

The airline said the passengers on board included 30 Egyptians, 15 French citizens, one Briton, one Canadian, as well as people from Algeria, Belgium, Sudan, Chad and Portugal.

There was also one child and two infants on board.

A major search is under way in seas south of the Greek island of Karpathos, with Greek and Egyptian armed forces involved in the effort. France has also offered to send boats and planes.

But President Hollande said he was keeping an open mind about the cause of the crash.

He said:

We will draw conclusions when we have the truth about what happened.

Whether it was an accident, or whether it was – and it’s something that is on our minds – terrorism.

However, Jean-Paul Troadec, the former chief of France’s air accident investigation unit, said the disappearance was ‘almost certainly’ caused by ‘an attack’.

As one of the most respected names in aviation, Jean-Paul Troadec said the lack of live emergency alerts suggested a ‘brutal event’.

Mideast Egypt PlanePA

He told Europe 1 radio station in Paris:

A technical problem, a fire or a failed motor do not cause an instant accident, and the team has time to react.

The team said nothing, they did not react, so it was very probably a brutal event and we can certainly think about an attack.

The head of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) have similar views. Speaking to the privately-owned Interfax news agency, Alexander Bortnikov said the crash was ‘in all likelihood’ a terrorist attack.

Online supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) have been sharing news of the disappearance of flight MS804, but have commented little on the possible cause of the incident, BBC reports. There has been no comment from supporters of al-Qaeda.

So far, both EgyptAir and Egypt’s aviation ministry are urging caution over speculation.

The Egyptian aviation minister said during a briefing that ‘the possibility of a crash could be high’ but nothing is confirmed until debris is found. He also denied rumours that plane had been suffering technical problems.

Earlier reports by Egyptian media initially reported that no distress call was made, but the airline later tweeted that official sources said a signal was received from the plane by the armed forces at 4:26am – about two hours after the last confirmed radar contact.

Egypt’s military has subsequently said that no such signal had been received, BBC reports.

Anyone concerned can call 0800 7777 0000 from any landline in Egypt and +202 259 89320 from any mobile phone or from outside Egypt.

More information to follow.