Missing airplane crashed into Mediterranean Sea, say Egyptian officials

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An EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo with 66 passengers and crew on board has crashed in the Mediterranean Sea, Egyptian aviation officials said.

EgyptAir Flight 804 was lost from radar at 2.45am local time when it was flying at 37,000ft, the airline said.

It said the Airbus A320 vanished 10 miles after it entered Egyptian air space, around 175 miles off the country's coastline north of the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria.

Aviation officials said the plane had crashed and a search was under way. The "possibility that the plane crashed has been confirmed", as the plane had not landed in any nearby airports, said the officials.

Another official said a signal had been picked up from the plane two hours after it disappeared from radar, thought to have been an emergency beacon

Egyptian military aircraft and navy ships are taking part in a search operation off Egypt's Mediterranean coast to locate the plane. It was carrying 56 passengers, including one child and two babies, and 10 crew members. The pilot had 6,000 flight hours.

EgyptAir said those on board included 15 French passengers, 30 Egyptians, one Briton, two Iraqis, one Kuwaiti, one Saudi, one Sudanese, one Chadian, one Portuguese, one Belgian, one Algerian and one Canadian.

Egypt's state-run newspaper Al-Ahram quoted an airport official as saying the pilot did not send a distress call, and that last contact with the plane was made 10 minutes before it disappeared from radar.

Airbus is aware of the disappearance, but "we have no official information at this stage of the certitude of an accident", company spokesman Jacques Rocca said.

French President Francois Hollande spoke with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on the phone and agreed to "closely co-operate to establish as soon as possible the circumstances", according to a statement issued in Paris.

French prime minister Manuel Valls said no scenario could be ruled out, and France was ready to join the search operation if Egyptian authorities requested assistance.

Around 15 relatives of passengers on the missing flight have arrived at Cairo airport. Airport authorities brought doctors to the scene after several distressed family members collapsed.

Greece joined the search and rescue operation with two aircraft: one C-130 and one early warning aircraft, the Hellenic National Defence General Staff said. They said one frigate was also heading to the area, and helicopters are on standby on the southern island of Karpathos for potential rescue or recovery operations.