EgyptAir Flight MS 804: What We Know One Day After

Planes on the tarmac at Cairo airport on Thursday after an EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo disappeared over the Mediterranean with 66 people on board.

Planes on the tarmac at Cairo airport on Thursday after an EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo disappeared over the Mediterranean with 66 people on board. Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

EgyptAir’s Flight MS 804 disappeared between Paris and Cairo early Thursday morning with 66 people on board.

The Airbus A320 departed from Charles de Gaulle Airport shortly after 5 p.m. ET (11 p.m. in Paris).

At 7:48 p.m. ET (1:48 a.m. in Cairo), Greek air traffic controllers were in touch with the plane and no problems were reported. Greek aviation officials said that was the last Greek contact with the plane; a later attempt to talk to the crew was unsuccessful, the Two-Way reported Thursday.

Egyptian officials said Egypt’s last air traffic control contact with the plane was at 8:30 p.m. ET (2:30 a.m. in Cairo). At approximately 8:45 p.m. ET (2:45 a.m. in Cairo) the plane vanished from radar, and Egypt’s attempt to reconnect with the plane received no response.

According to the Egyptian civil aviation authorities, the flight was 37,000 feet over the Mediterranean at the time of its disappearance. It was traveling through Egyptian airspace, shortly after leaving Greek skies. The plane is presumed to have crashed in the sea.

No Debris From The Plane Found So Far

Hours after the plane went missing, the Egyptian Ministry of Civil Aviation said debris, including life jackets and plastic items, had been found in the Mediterranean Sea near the Greek island of Karpathos.

Conflicting reports came from Egyptian and Greek officials on whether the debris came from the plane. But late in the day, EgyptAir Vice Chairman Ahmed Adel told CNN, the wreckage is “not our aircraft.”

Map showing the path of EgyptAir flight 804

Source: FlightAware

Credit: Alyson Hurt/NPR

As the Two-Way reported, Egypt, Greece, France, England, Cyprus and Italy all worked to search for the plane after it disappeared from radar, according to Egypt’s military spokesman. A U.S. Navy patrol aircraft also joined the search, the Navy said.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi vowed the search for the plane — and for answers — would continue. The statement from his office read, in part:

“The President gave directives to all relevant state authorities including the ministry of civil aviation and the armed forces’ search and rescue center, the navy and air force, to intensify search operations for the Egyptian aircraft and to take all measures necessary to locate the debris of the plane in collaboration and coordination with friendly countries.”

Egypt: Terrorist Attack More Likely Than Technical Failure

The cause of the plane’s disappearance is still unknown, but Egypt’s Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy said the possibility of the plane being brought down by a terror attack “is higher than the possibility of having a technical failure,” the AP reports.

The plane swerved wildly before going off the radar, said Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, according to the wire service. He said the plane “made a 90-degree left turn, then a full 360-degree turn to the right,” before plummeting out of the sky, the AP reported. It added:

“Its erratic course suggested a number of possible explanations, including a catastrophic mechanical or structural failure, a bombing, or a struggle over the controls with a hijacker in the cockpit.”

Fathy confirmed that no distress signal had come from the plane, as the Two-Way reported.

Alexander Bortnikov, chief of Russia’s top domestic security agency, was quoted by the AP as saying: “In all likelihood it was a terror attack.”

However, no militant groups have claimed responsibility so far.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement Thursday evening that the cause of the plane’s disappearance is still unknown.

“At this time we do not yet know definitively what caused the disappearance of Flight 804,” he said. “The United States stands ready to provide our full support and resources to the Governments of Egypt and France as they investigate this incident.”

Weather conditions were clear at the time of the plane’s disappearance, Reuters reported.

The Passengers

The 66 people aboard included three security personnel and seven crew members, EgyptAir said. The 56 passengers included one child and two infants. Of the passengers, 30 were Egyptian, 15 French and the remainder a variety of nationalities, the airline said. No Americans were said to be on board.

EgyptAir notified family members of passengers and crew, it said in a statement.

A relative of a passenger on the missing EgyptAir flight MS 804 cries at Cairo International Airport as she tries to receive information about the plane's fate.

A relative of a passenger on the missing EgyptAir flight MS 804 cries at Cairo International Airport as she tries to receive information about the plane’s fate. Anadolu Agency/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The families of the victims gathered at the Cairo airport, waiting for news of their loved ones, NPR’s Emily Harris reported.

“My Egyptian colleague here spoke to one woman very briefly this morning who was coming out of an EgyptAir office with no information, talking about her daughter and wiping away tears,” Emily told Morning Edition by phone from the airport.

Information about the people aboard the plane has been emerging. The New York Times reports:

“The passengers on the EgyptAir flight that plunged into the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday included a French rock ‘n’ roll photographer who considered skipping the flight; a Portuguese engineer and father of four; and a couple in their 40s from Angers, in western France, according to their families and local news reports.

“One of the Egyptian flight attendants was newly married. A young man from Chad, who was studying in France, was on his way to see his family after his mother’s death.”

The Los Angeles Times has begun compiling information about the people on Flight MS 804 here.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr Resigns At Mayor Ed Lee's Request

San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr resigned on Thursday after losing the support of Mayor Ed Lee, who had backed him despite several racially-charged incidents in the department.

San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr resigned on Thursday after losing the support of Mayor Ed Lee, who had backed him despite several racially-charged incidents in the department. Eric Risberg/AP hide caption

toggle caption Eric Risberg/AP

Protesters had been demanding for months that San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr be removed from office, but Mayor Ed Lee backed him despite several racially-charged incidents in the department.

That support ended on Thursday when Lee ask for, and received, Suhr’s resignation.

The last straw appeared to have happened hours earlier when a police officer fatally shot a young black woman as he tried to arrest her for allegedly driving a stolen car that had crashed into a parked truck.

That shooting happened in the same neighborhood where months earlier five officers fatally shot a young black man carrying a knife.

After that shooting, and with the mayor’s support, Suhr instituted reforms intended to cut down on police shootings.

At the same time, federal officials were asked to review the department’s protocols.

But reforms were slow to take hold.

As recently as last month, three officers were discovered to have exchanged racist and homophobic text messages.

After receiving Suhr’s resignation, the mayor made a brief statement at City Hall, writes the San Francisco Examiner:

“I have previously expressed confidence in Chief Suhr because I know he agrees with and understands the need for reform,” Lee said. “He has demonstrated his commitment to instilling these reforms into the whole department, from the command staff to the cadets.”

The mayor continued, “But following this morning’s officer-involved shooting and my meeting with Chief Suhr this afternoon, today I have arrived at a different conclusion to the question of how best to move forward.

“The progress we’ve made has been meaningful, but it hasn’t been fast enough. Not for me, not for Greg. That’s why I have asked Chief Suhr for his resignation. And in the best interest of the City he loves so much, he tendered his resignation earlier today.”

Lee appointed Suhr chief in 2011, a veteran of more than 30 years in the department. The Associated Press reports he rose through the ranks despite several missteps.

He was demoted from deputy chief to captain in 2009 after failing to file a police report after a female friend told him she had been assaulted by her boyfriend.

The city last year paid $725,000 to settle a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by a former department lawyer who recommended Suhr be fired for failing to report his friend’s assault. When Suhr became chief, he fired the lawyer.

Suhr was also re-assigned from head of patrol in 2005 to guarding the city’s water supply, which was widely viewed as a demotion.

Two years earlier, he was one of several officers indicted in the city’s so-called “Fajitagate” for allegedly trying to cover up an investigation of three off-duty officers who had beaten up a waiter and took his bag of Mexican food. The indictment was tossed out.

On Thursday, Mayor Lee announce Suhr’s replacement.

The San Jose Mercury News reports:

Lee appointed Commander Toney Chaplin as acting chief. A 26-year African-American veteran of the department, the mayor said Chaplin is committed to the city’s diverse communities. He has served at Mission and Taraval stations, in the Gang Task Force, and ran the homicide division. He most recently established the department’s new Professional Standards and Principled Policing bureau, which focuses on transparency and accountability, the mayor said.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)