Vanished: EgyptAir flight MS804  heading from Paris to Cairo is believed to have crashed into the sea after disappearing from radar. There were 66 people on board the Airbus A320 (pictured) that vanished 40 minutes before it was set to land in Egypt early Thursday morning

Source: Daily Mail

Debris has been found in the search for the EgyptAir plane that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea with 66 people on board after the jet went into a sudden spin and plunged 22,000ft before vanishing off the radar.

Flight MS804 disappeared near the Greek island of Karpathos, ten miles into Egyptian airspace at around 00.30am GMT, without making a distress call.

A Greek frigate discovered two large plastic floating objects in the sea around 230 miles south of the island of Crete, Greek defence sources said.

The two objects appeared to be pieces of plastic in white and red and spotted close to an area where a transponder signal had been emitted.

Earlier, Greek defence minister Panos Kammenos said the Airbus A320 made ‘sudden swerves’ in mid-air, lurching 90 degrees to the left then 360 degrees to the right as it fell out of the sky.

He said the plane dropped from 37,000 feet to 15,000ft before the signal was lost at around 10,000 feet.

The revelation came after a former air accident chief said all the evidence was pointed to the plane being targeted in a terrorist attack.

Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi also said the possibility of a terror attack was a ‘stronger’ possibility than technical failure.

The head of Russia’s top domestic security agency, Alexander Bortnikov, also claimed it was ‘in all likelihood it was a terror attack’.

The 56 passengers on board included one Briton, 30 Egyptians, 15 French, one Belgian, one Iraqi, one Kuwaiti, one Saudi Arabian, one Chadian, one Portuguese, one Algerian and one Canadian. There were 10 crew members including three security guards.

Relatives of passengers on the missing EgyptAir flight break down as they console each other at Cairo International Airport in Egypt

A radar map shows the plane's path travelling from Paris and then stopping in the Mediterranean Sea before reaching Cairo, where it lost contact with air traffic control 

Jean-Paul Troadec, the former chief of the BEA national investigation unit, said the lack of a live emergency alert meant it was certainly destroyed in a terror attack.

He 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.’

His comments came after a merchant ship captain reported seeing a ‘flame in the sky’ over the Mediterranean.

ISIS has been waging a deadly insurgency against Egyptian security forces and last October claimed the bombing of a Russian airliner flying home holidaymakers from the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh which killed all 224 people on board.

The flight was the aircraft’s fifth of the day, having also flown to the Eritrean capital of Asmara, the Tunisian capital Tunis and Brussels in Belgium.

French President Francois Hollande said nothing had been ruled out about the cause of the crash.

Speaking at the Elysee Palace in Paris, he said: ‘When we have the truth we need to draw all the conclusions. At this stage, we must give priority to solidarity toward the families (of the victims).’

The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into the accident.

The prosecutor said in a statement that its collective accident department opened the investigation with the national gendarme service, adding that ‘no hypothesis is favoured or ruled out at this stage’.

In the minutes and hours after the crash, devastated relatives gathered at Charles De Gaulle and Cairo Airports, weeping and comforting each other as waited for news of their loved ones.

The British Foreign Office said it was in contact with the family of a British national who was feared dead.

The Airbus A320 left the French capital’s Charles De Gaulle Airport at 9.09pm GMT last night before coming down off the Greek island of Karpathos ten miles into Egyptian airspace at around 00.30am GMT.

It was scheduled to arrive at Cairo Airport at 1.15am GMT.

EgyptAir first reported on the disappearance of the flight, tweeting: ‘An informed source at EGYPTAIR stated that Flight no MS804, which departed Paris at 9.09pm (GMT) heading to Cairo, has disappeared from radar.’

Greece’s Civil Aviation Authority CAA said the flight entered the Greek air traffic control area (FIR) at 2.24am Greek time (11.24am GMT).

It was identified and approved on its flight course before passing into the next section of air traffic control where it was approved by the controller for the exit point of the Greek FIR.

The CAA said the last communication traffic controllers had with the EgyptAir pilot at around 00.05am found him in good spirits.

It said the pilot ‘was in a good mood and gave thanks in Greek when authorised to exit the Athens flight information region’.

Air traffic controllers tried to contact the pilot again at 00.27am for the handover of the plane to Cairo’s area of responsibility, but ‘despite repeated calls, the aircraft did not respond’.

Air traffic control called on the emergency frequency and again there was no response.

At 00.29am GMT, the aircraft was over the exit point of the Athens FIR, and at 00.29.40am GMT, it vanished from radar.

The Greek authority said the military was asked for help in case the plane could be located on a military radar, but there was no sign of it.

Search and rescue operations then kicked in 00.45am.

Shock: A woman reacts as she waits outside the Egyptair in-flight service building where relatives and friends of passengers who were flying in an EgyptAir plane that vanished from radar en route from Paris to Cairo are being held,at Cairo International Airport

Shock: A woman reacts as she waits outside the Egyptair in-flight service building where relatives and friends of passengers who were flying in an EgyptAir plane that vanished from radar en route from Paris to Cairo are being held,at Cairo International Airport

Relatives and friends of passengers who were flying in an EgyptAir plane leave the Egyptair in-flight service building at Cairo Airport

Relatives and friends of passengers who were flying in an EgyptAir plane leave the Egyptair in-flight service building at Cairo Airport

Relatives gather at Cairo Airport. Among the 56 passengers on board the plane were 30 Egyptian nationals, 15 French, two Iraqis, one Briton, Belgian, Kuwaiti, Saudi, Sudanese, Chadian, Portuguese, Algerian and a Canadian

Relatives gather at Cairo Airport. Among the 56 passengers on board the plane were 30 Egyptian nationals, 15 French, two Iraqis, one Briton, Belgian, Kuwaiti, Saudi, Sudanese, Chadian, Portuguese, Algerian and a 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.

EgyptAir said the plane sent an emergency signal, possibly from an emergency beacon attached to the plane, at 2.26am GMT two hours after it vanished.

In water crashes, an underwater beacon attached to the aircraft’s flight recorders starts to emit a signal or ping which helps search and rescue teams to locate the crash and find the black boxes.

A French security source told the Telegraph: ‘We cannot rule out the possibility of a terrorist attack.’

Egyptian military aircraft and navy ships were taking part in a search operation off Egypt’s Mediterranean coast to locate the debris of the plane, which was carrying 56 passengers, including one child and two babies, and 10 crew members.

Greece also joined the search and rescue operation, officials at the Hellenic National Defense General Staff said.

'We cannot rule anything out': Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail talks to reporters at Cairo International Airport. He said it was too early to say whether a technical problem or a terror attack caused the plane to crash

‘We cannot rule anything out’: Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail talks to reporters at Cairo International Airport. He said it was too early to say whether a technical problem or a terror attack caused the plane to crash

On high alert: A French officer of the Police aux Frontieres (Borders Police) stands guard at  Charles de Gaulle airport

On high alert: A French officer of the Police aux Frontieres (Borders Police) stands guard at Charles de Gaulle airport

Police take up position at Terminal 1 at Charles de Gaulle airport, after the EgyptAir flight vanished from radar

Police take up position at Terminal 1 at Charles de Gaulle airport, after the EgyptAir flight vanished from radar

The EgyptAir counter at Charles de Gaulle was empty first thing this morning after reports of the plane's disappearance began to surface

The EgyptAir counter at Charles de Gaulle was empty first thing this morning after reports of the plane’s disappearance began to surface

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault offered to send military planes and boats to join the Egyptian search for wreckage.

‘We are at the disposition of the Egyptian authorities with our military capacities, with our planes, our boats to help in the search for this plane,’ he said.

He spoke after French President Francois Hollande held an emergency meeting at the Elysee Palace.

Later, the French military said a Falcon surveillance jet monitoring the Mediterranean for migrants had been diverted to help search for the EgyptAir plane.

Military spokesman Colonel Gilles Jaron said the jet is joining the Egypt-led search effort and the French navy may send another plane and a ship to the zone.

Mr Hollande has spoken with Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi by telephone and they agreed to ‘closely cooperate to establish the circumstances’ in which the EgyptAir flight disappeared.

The government statement cited Hollande as saying he shares the anxiety of families.

Speaking on RTL radio, he said the Paris airport authority has opened a crisis centre to support the families coming to Charles de Gaulle Airport.

He said ‘no theory can be ruled out’.

Search and rescue teams have been sent to a specific location believed to be 40 miles from the Egyptian coast.

Greece has also joined the search and rescue operation.

Two aircraft, one C-130 and one early warning aircraft have been dispatched, officials at 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.

Ahmed Abdel, the vice-chairman of EgyptAir holding company, said no distress signal had been sent, as far as he knew.

FROM A JOVIAL CONVERSATION WITH AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL TO RADIO SILENCE: HOW MS804 VANISHED IN MID-AIR

11.09pm local time (9.09pm GMT) Wednesday:

EgyptAir flight MS804 departs Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport bound for Cairo with 56 passengers and 10 crew including three security guards.

2.24am Greek time (11.24 GMT) Thursday:

Airbus A320 enters the Greek air traffic control area, also known as the flight information region (FIR).

The plane was identified and approved on its flight course before passing into the next section of air traffic control where it was approved by the controller for the exit point of the Greek FIR.

00.05 GMT:

The last communication traffic controllers had with the pilot found him in good spirits. The captain ‘was in a good mood and gave thanks in Greek’ when authorised to exit the Athens FIR. 

00.27 GMT:

Air traffic controllers try to contact the pilot again for the handover of the plane to Cairo’s area of responsibility, but despite ‘repeated calls, the aircraft did not respond’.

Air traffic control called on the emergency frequency and again there was no response. 

00.29am GMT: 

The aircraft crosses over the exit point of the Athens air traffic control area.

00.29.40secs GMT:

The jet vanishes from radar 170 miles from the Egyptian coast.

The Greek authority said the military was asked for help in case the plane could be located on a military radar, but there was no sign of it. 

00.45am GMT

Search and rescue operation gets underway

4.26am local time (2.26 GMT) 

There is confusion over a new distress signal that was reportedly received by an Egyptian military tower, two hours after the last confirmed contact with the aircraft. It is believed to have come from the aircraft’s emergency devices.

He added that there had been no reported problems with the plane when it left Paris.

The captain of the plane, Abdel said, had more than 6,000 flying hours. This includes 2,000 on an A320.

He also said there was no special cargo on board and the airline was not informed about any dangerous objects on board.

As the plane was in Egyptian airspace, their air traffic controllers should have been in contact with the flight team.

However, it does not necessarily mean the plane was over land at the time, as Egyptian air space stretches over the Mediterranean Sea.

According to flight schedules, it was the plane’s fifth flight of the day.

Shortly after news of the disappearance broke, the Egyptair website crashed.

The Airbus A320 is a short-to-mid range aircraft and is one of the most commonly used in the world that first entered circulation in 1986.

It has a capacity of 150 passengers and a range of more than 3,000 miles.

An EgyptAir plane was hijacked and diverted to Cyprus in March. A man who admitted to the hijacking and is described by Cypriot authorities as ‘psychologically unstable’ is in custody in Cyprus.

The incident renewed security concerns months after a Russian passenger plane was blown out of the sky over the Sinai Peninsula.

The Russian plane crashed in Sinai on October 31, killing all 224 people on board. Moscow said it was brought down by an explosive device, and a local branch of the extremist Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for planting it.

In 1999, EgyptAir Flight 1990 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near the Massachusetts island of Nantucket, killing all 217 people aboard.

U.S. investigators filed a final report that concluded its co-pilot switched off the autopilot and pointed the Boeing 767 downward.

But Egyptian officials rejected the notion of suicide altogether, insisting some mechanical reason caused the crash.

EgyptAir has provided the following numbers for those wanting more information or who may have families on board:

080077770000 from any landline in Egypt

+ 202 25989320 outside Egypt or any mobile in Egypt

A closer locator map shows where the flight lost contact with radars around 170 miles from the the Egyptian coast