Search For EgyptAir Plane Wreckage Continues As Terrorism is Investigated As Cause
An EgyptAir plane carrying 66 people crashed in the Mediterranean Sea off the Greek island of Crete Thursday, and terrorism is being investigated as a possible cause.
EgyptAir Flight 804, which was traveling from Paris to Cairo, vanished from radar after making sharp turns at about 2.45 a.m. local time, Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said.
On Thursday evening local time, EgyptAir said that the wreckage, as well as items including life jackets, had been found near Karpathos Island -- before doubts were cast on the claim. Greek authorities said the debris did not come from a plane, and EgyptAir told CNN it was retracting its statement.
The head of Russia's top domestic security agency, Alexander Bortnikov, said Thursday that "in all likelihood it was a terror attack" that brought down the plane, The Associated Press reported.
Egypt's aviation minister said the possibility of a terror attack was "stronger" than a technical failure.
The plane was carrying 56 passengers, including a child and two infants, and 10 crew members.
The passengers included 15 French travelers, 30 Egyptians, two Iraqis, one Briton, one Kuwaiti, one Saudi, one Sudanese, one Chadian, one Portuguese, one Belgian, one Algerian and one Canadian, EgyptAir said. One of the infants was French, Egyptian authorities said.
Stories about the victims are beginning to emerge.
One passenger was a student training at a French military school, the Saint-Cyr army academy. He was heading to his family's home in Chad to mourn his mother when the plane crashed, according to Chad's embassy in Paris.
Another passenger was an Egyptian man returning home after medical treatment in France, friends told The AP.
"EGYPTAIR sincerely conveys its deepest sorrow to the families and friends of the passengers onboard Flight MS804," the airline said in a statement.
Confirming the plane had crashed Thursday, French President Francois Hollande said officials had not ruled out any hypothesis for the crash, including an accident or a terrorist act.
"When we have the truth we need to draw all the conclusions," he said from the Elysee Palace in Paris. "At this stage, we must give priority to solidarity toward the families."
The confirmation of the crash came after reports that the plane had vanished from radar. The Egyptian military said it had not received a distress call.
Kammenos said the flight made abrupt turns and suddenly lost altitude just before its disappearance, the AP reported.
The aircraft was 10 to 15 miles inside the Egyptian air traffic control area of responsibility at an altitude of 37,000 feet when "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," he said.