EgyptAir flight with 66 on board crashes in Med

An EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo, which went off the radar this morning, has crashed in the Mediterranean Sea, Egyptian aviation officials said. The Airbus A320 had vanished 16 kilometres after it entered Egyptian airspace, around 280 kilometres off the country's coastline north of the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria.

Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said it was too early to say whether a technical problem or a terror attack caused Flight MS804 to crash. "We cannot rule anything out," he told reporters at Cairo airport. EgyptAir also said that the cause of the disappearance of its Paris-Cairo flight was still unclear as search teams scoured the waters off the Egyptian coast.

As confirmed by the airline on Twitter, the flight had 66 people on aboard.

Egypt's state news agency quoted the prime minister as saying there was no "distress call", but there was a "signal" received from the plane. The spokesperson of the Egyptian army, Brig Gen Mohammed Samir, also echoed the same point: a statement posted on the army's official Facebook page says that the army has not received any distress call from the missing plane.

France's transport chief said there were three Egyptian security officers on the EgyptAir flight. Alain Vidalies told reporters on Thursday, after an emergency government meeting, that the plane had seven crew members and three Egyptian security officers, "which is the usual practice". He also said the plane was not carrying freight.

According to the airline's Twitter feed, Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail has been following up the situation from their crisis centre. Ismail was presented with a detailed briefing about the situation from the crisis team and he has directed all the concerned authorities to take necessary action.

MarineTraffic, a ship-tracking service app, has confirmed on its verified Twitter page that nearby vessels were helping with the search.

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

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

Lyzerakos told private Antenna television that controllers tried to make contact with the pilot 10 miles before the flight exited the Greek Flight Information Range (FIR), but the pilot did not respond. Lyzerakos says controllers continued trying to contact the pilot until 3:39 am Greek time (1239 GMT) when the plane disappeared from the radar.

Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault exchanged condolences on the casualties of EgyptAir flight MS804. The two ministers stressed that they need to cooperate to understand the reasons behind the crash.

There were no weather issues at the time and in the vicinity of the area where the plane went missing, European air traffic network manager Eurocontrol told Reuters.