A PASSENGER plane carrying 66 people, including one Brit, has crashed into the Med in what experts claim is “almost certainly” a terror attack.The Airbus A320 was flying from Paris to Cairo when it fell off the radar, with Egyptian aviation authorities looking into reports of a “flame in the sky”.
Greece’s defence minister Panos Kammenos said the plane had made “sudden swerves” at 37,000ft before plunging off radar in the southern Mediterranean.
Aviation and security experts said that confusion over whether or not the pilots sent a distress signal mean the crash could have been caused by an explosive device, giving those on board no time to react.
French president Francois Hollande confirmed MS804 had “crashed” off the Greek island of Karpatho.
In a television address he said: “We must ensure that we know everything on the causes of what happened. No hypothesis is ruled out or favoured.”
Although a Greek island, Karpatho is in Egyptian airspace as it lies 600 miles from the Egyptian coast
There was confusion over whether the flight sent a distress call, with EgyptAir claiming one was sent nearly TWO HOURS after the flight first vanished from radar, but the Egyptian army denying ever receiving one.
Jean-Paul Troadec, the former chief of France’s air accident investigation unit, the BEA, said the disappearance was “almost certainly” caused by “an attack”.
He said the lack of live emergency alert suggested a “brutal event”.
Troadec told Europe 1 radio station in Paris: “A technical problem, a fire or a failed motor do not cause an instant accident, and the team has time to react.
“The team said nothing, they did not react, so it was very probably a brutal event and we can certainly think about an attack.”
The crash comes just months after a Russian airliner was bombed by ISIS as it flew over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and weeks after an EgyptAir plane was hijacked and taken to Cyprus by a man wearing a fake suicide belt.
The flight, which was at 37,000 feet and travelling at 519mph when it vanished, was supposed to touch down at 3.05am local time after leaving Charles De Gaulle Airport at 11.09pm local time last night.
A captain on board a merchant ship in the area reported seeing a “flame in the sky” around the time the plane disappeared.
Search teams were not dispatched until 04.26 am local time, when Egyptian authorities received a distressed call – nearly two hours after the flight lost contact with air traffic control.
It was 20 minutes from landing and roughly ten miles into Egyptian airspace when it disappeared.
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.
The director, Constantine Lyzerakos, said the plane 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 a.m. Greek time (1239 GMT) when the plane disappeared from the radar.
Lyzerakos says the plane was in Cairo’s flight information range when it vanished.
The Independent News