LIVE: EgyptAir plane crash search widens

2016-05-19 07:09

An EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo has crashed. Search efforts are still underway. Follow the latest updates here.


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Last Updated at 15:17
19 May 07:59

The latest from the airline: EgyptAir A320 aircraft flight number MS804 lost contact with radar above the Mediterranean Sea about 280km from the Egyptian coast at 02:30 [local time] as the flight was expected to arrive Cairo airport at 03:15.

The airline had earlier said that it lost contact with the aircraft about 50km from the coastline.

According to FlightRadar24, this is the last point of contact:

19 May 08:06
South Africa's International Relations and Co-operation department says it is still checking to see if there were South Africans on board but EgyptAir already stated the nationalities of passengers earlier and South Africa was not mentioned.

19 May 08:14
Speaking to Traveller24, Airbus spokesperson Linden Birns said: "We are aware that the aircraft, an A320, is missing.  We'll be able to provide further information as soon as it becomes available.”

19 May 08:27
EgyptAir says that the plane’s emergency devices sent a distress signal that was received at 04:26, some two hours after the previously stated last radar contact.

19 May 08:59

BREAKING: AP reports - 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. They say the "possibility that the plane crashed has been confirmed," as the plane hasn't landed in any of the nearby airports.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

19 May 09:05
Loved ones have gathered at the airport in Cairo to hear the latest on what's happened.

19 May 09:07
Egypt's navy, air force and coastguard are all involved in the search for the missing aircraft.

19 May 09:18
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 (Michel Euler, AP)

19 May 09:42

A statement from Egypt’s civil aviation ministry says it is too early to conclude that the missing plane has crashed, and EgyptAir has protested at what it calls “misinformation”, asking media to wait for official updates. 

19 May 09:47
The spokesperson of the Egyptian army said on their official Facebook page that the army had not received any distress call from the missing plane. 

19 May 09:49

AP has reported that France's transport chief says there were three Egyptian security officers on the EgyptAir flight that disappeared after leaving Paris for Cairo.

Alain Vidalies told reporters after an emergency government meeting that the plane had seven crew members and three Egyptian security officers, "which is the usual practice."

19 May 09:52
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. (AP)

19 May 09:56
AFP reports: Egypt's state news agency quotes Prime Minister Sherif Ismail as saying he can't "rule out" any possibility when asked whether a terrorist attack is behind the missing plane. 

19 May 10:00

The missing airline crashed into the sea off the southern Greek island of Karpathos while in Egyptian airspace, a Greece aviation source told AFP.

"At around 0029 GMT (3:29 am) when it was in Egyptian airspace, the plane disappeared from Greek radars... it crashed around 130 nautical miles off the island of Karpathos," the source told AFP.

The official said the last communication with the pilot was three minutes before the plane disappeared, and that there had been no distress call.

The Greek defense ministry said it had dispatched two search planes and a frigate to the area.

19 May 10:11

19 May 10:23

19 May 10:29

EgyptAir MS804 Sea Search operations as recorded by MarineTraffic.

19 May 10:48

The director of Greece's Civil Aviation Authority says air traffic controllers were in contact with the pilot of the EgyptAir flight as it passed through Greek airspace, AP reports.

The director, Constantine Lyzerakos, said the plane was at 37 000 feet, traveling at 519 mph, and did not report any problems.

19 May 10:55

Some relatives of missing #MS804 passengers now leaving the airport and have been told to wait for phone updates.

One man has 4 family members on board the missing aircraft.

19 May 10:59

The French military says a Falcon surveillance jet monitoring the Mediterranean for migrants has been diverted to help search for an EgyptAir flight that crashed in the area.

The French navy may send another plane and a ship to the zone.

19 May 11:03

French President Francois Hollande called his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the leaders agreed to "cooperate closely" to establish what happened to the plane, AFP reports.

Hollande also set up a crisis meeting of top ministers, including Valls, the foreign, defence and interior ministers, according to sources close to his office.

19 May 11:07

The missing EgyptAir plane entered into service in 2003. The aircraft had accumulated approximately 48 000 flight hours. 

19 May 11:10
According to The Guardian, a Greek defense ministry source said authorities were also investigating an account from the captain of a merchant ship who reported a ‘flame in the sky’ about 130 nautical miles south of the island of Karpathos.

19 May 11:13

Jean-Paul Troadec, former president of the French air accident investigation bureau (BEA) was asked to speculate on what caused the plane’s disappearance: 

"We can make certain hypotheses...there’s a strong possibility of an explosion on board from a bomb or a suicide bomber. The idea of a technical accident when weather conditions were good, seems also possible but not that likely. We could also consider a missile, which is what happened to the Malaysia Airlines aircraft in July 2014.

If the crew didn’t send an alert signal, it’s because what happened was very sudden. A problem with an engine or a technical fault, would not produce an immediate accident. In this case, the crew did not react, which makes us think of a bomb.”

19 May 11:18

The BBC reports that Egypt's foreign ministry has put out a statement in which it refers to the "falling" of the plane.

This would be the first real indication from Egypt that flight MS804 might have come down.

19 May 11:22

The timeline of events:

23:09 Cairo time: flight MS804 leaves Paris Charles de Gaulle airport

02:27 Cairo time: last signal picked up by Greek air traffic control, according to Reuters

02:30 Cairo time: Egypt loses contact with flight

03:15 Cairo time: plane had been due to arrive in Cairo

19 May 11:24
Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail talks to reporters at Cairo International Airport. (AP)

19 May 11:34

The airline’s two scheduled flights from Charles de Gaulle airport to Cairo will run as normal on Thursday, reported BFMTV.

The flights are scheduled for 3:45pm and 10:45pm.

19 May 11:43

Experts say a terrorist attack is the most likely scenario. Both France and Egypt have been leading targets for Islamist extremists in recent months.

19 May 11:56

CNN reports that the area in the Mediterranean where the plane disappeared is a “heavily policed” area of sea with a strong military presence, according to aviation expert Julian Bray.

"They probably already know what has happened to this plane but aren't telling us," Bray said. 

19 May 12:03

Vladimir Putin has expressed his condolences following the disappearance of flight MS804.

Moscow banned Egyptair flights last year after on of their planes crashed in Sinai killing 224 mainly Russian passengers.

19 May 12:10
If you've just joined us, you can watch a quick summary of the events below:

19 May 12:20

The Airbus A320 is one of the most common planes in service around the world today.

Some key facts about it:

—Similar to the Boeing 737, the single-aisle, twin-engine jet is used to connect cities that are between one and five hours apart.

—The Airbus A320 is generally considered one of the safest passenger planes in service. A Boeing safety analysis in early 2015 said the A320 registered just 0.14 fatal accidents per million takeoffs.

—The first A320 entered service in 1988.

—There are nearly 4 000 A320s in operation worldwide.

—Airbus, a European plane-making group based in Toulouse, France, also makes nearly identical versions of the A320: the smaller A318 and A319 and the stretched A321. The entire fleet has accumulated nearly 180 million flight hours in over 98 million flights.

—The plane is certified to fly up to 39 000 feet, its maximum altitude before its rate of climb begins to erode. The plane has an absolute flight limit of 42 000 feet.

19 May 12:25

The pilot of an EgyptAir flight had "not mentioned a problem" in his final contact, the Greek civil aviation said.

"The flight controllers contacted the pilot (with the plane) at a height of 37 000 feet (near Athens)... he did not mention a problem," civil aviation chief Constantinos Litzerakos told Antenna TV.

19 May 12:32

The head of Greece’s air traffic controllers board has told The Guardian there was “no chance” MS804 was still in the air.

“I consider it a fact that the plane has crashed. There is no chance of it still being in the air,” Serafeim Petrou said. “Most probably, and very unfortunately, it is at the bottom of the sea.”

French president François Hollande has also confirmed that the plane has crashed. 

19 May 12:33
France's PM Manuel Valls says "no theory can be ruled out" in the missing EgyptAir flight.

19 May 12:37
“The information we have gathered - ministers, members of government and, of course, the Egyptian authorities - confirm, sadly, that it has crashed." - François Hollande

19 May 12:40
A relative of a passenger who was flying aboard an EgyptAir plane that vanished cries as family members are transported by bus to a gathering point at Cairo airport. (AFP)

19 May 12:49
GoogleTrends shows the questions people are asking about EgyptAir flight MS804, and from where:

19 May 12:52

19 May 13:17

The Greek defense minister has said an EgyptAir “suddenly” started veering to the right and left just before it disappeared from radar.

"The plane carried out a 90-degree turn to the left and a 360-degree turn to the right, falling from 37 000 to 15 000 feet and the signal was lost at around 10 000 feet," Defense Minister Panos Kammenos told a news conference.

The plane then disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea, shortly after 2.30am local time.

19 May 13:40

Watch a live press conference from Egypt’s civil aviation ministry in Cairo here:

19 May 13:46

A civil aviation statement said the pilot "was in a good mood and gave thanks in Greek when authorised to exit the Athens flight information region.

"We tracked the entire process from the plane's entry (into Greek airspace) to its exit, it does not appear to deviate at all from the coordinates we gave," Litzerakos said.

19 May 13:52
The Egyptian minister of aviation says they are "not ruling out that it was a terrorist attack or mechanical failure". 

19 May 14:09

Donald Trump has weighed in on the incident, unsurprisingly:

19 May 14:22
Egypt’s minister of civil aviation, Sherif Fathy, says the plane should be regarded as “missing” until debris is found. Search is focused near the Greek island of Karpathos.

19 May 14:31
Anyone concerned can call 0800 7777 0000 from any landline in Egypt and +202 259 89320 from any mobile phone or from outside Egypt.

19 May 14:33
Egypt's chief prosecutor says he has ordered "urgent investigation" into the crash of EgyptAir plane.

19 May 14:34

AP reports that Greece's defense minister, Panos Kammenos, says Greece has a submarine on standby which is participating in a NATO exercise about 160 km away from the presumed crash area, while F-16 fighter jets stationed on Crete could also be used if necessary.

The country already has a navy frigate, two military transport planes and a radar plane participating in the search and rescue operation, while he said Egypt had sent a C-130 military transport plane and two F-16s.

France is providing Falcon navy support aircraft, he said, while Greece has contacted the US and Russia, and the American side has offered and Greece has accepted the help of a maritime support aircraft.

19 May 14:49

Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi said Egypt-Greek search for debris of crashed EgyptAir plane off Greek island of Karpathos is expanding.

Hours after the plane disappeared, Fathi told reporters in Cairo that the diameter of the search area will widen, moving further south of the island.

Search efforts continue. Keep checking News24 for the latest updates.

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