Egyptian officials suspect a terrorist attack is behind the disappearance of EgyptAir Flight 804, which carried 66 passengers.
The Airbus A320 “turned 90 degrees left and then a 360-degree turn to the right, dropping from 37,000 to 15,000 feet and then it was lost at about 10,000 feet,” said Greece’s defense minister Panos Kammenos.
While Greek aviation officials reported communicating with the pilot shortly after the plane entered Greek airspace and everything appeared normal, when they followed up repeatedly just as the aircraft was set to enter Egyptian airspace around 3:27 a.m. Cairo time the pilot “did not respond.”
The plane disappeared from radar two minutes later.
“If you analyze the situation properly, the possibility of having a different action, or having a terror attack, is higher than the possibility of having a technical [fault],” said Egyptian Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi.
While it’s far too early to tell, U.S. government officials theorize that the plane was taken down by a bomb.
French President Francois Hollande wasn’t so fast to rush to the conclusion of terrorism, but did admit that “it’s something that is on our minds.”
As the search for the plane continues, Britain has joined in the Egyptian-led effort by deploying a naval vessel to the area and offering a C-130 aircraft from a base on Cyprus. There was one British passenger aboard the plane.
“We stand ready to offer further assistance should it be required,” said Defense Secretary Michael Fallon.
The U.S. Navy has also provided a P-3 Orion aircraft to help in the search.
Thus far, floating objects were found 210 nautical miles southeast of Crete, but there’s no confirmation they belonged to Flight MS804.
In total, the plane carried 56 passengers mainly from Egypt or France, seven crewmembers and three security personnel.
“The state services did their job with a lot of energy and devotion,” said French Secretary of State for Victim Assistance Juliette Méadel. “The goal today was to tell to the victims — and the loved ones and relatives of the victims that are here — that the state is there. All the authorities have done their utmost and today I think only of the suffering and the pain of the relatives of these victims."
(Photo: AP Photo/Thomas Ranner)