Terrorism suspected after Egyptian plane with 66 aboard crashes
CAIRO — An EgyptAir jetliner bound from Paris to Cairo with 66 people aboard crashed in the Mediterranean Sea early today after what authorities call a mysterious series of extremely abrupt turns.
Egypt's aviation minister says it may have been a terrorist attack. There are no immediate signs of any survivors.
EgyptAir Flight 804 was an Airbus A320 carrying 56 passengers and 10 crew members. It went down about halfway between the Greek island of Crete and Egypt's northern coastline after takeoff from Charles de Gaulle Airport.
Greece's defense minister says the plane spun all the way around and suddenly lost altitude just before vanishing from radar screens around 2:45 a.m. Egyptian time.
In Cairo, Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi cautioned that the disaster is still under investigation. But he said the possibility it was a terror attack "is higher than the possibility of having a technical failure."
Those on board, according to EgyptAir, included 15 French passengers, 30 Egyptians, two Iraqis, one Briton, one Kuwaiti, one Saudi, one Sudanese, one Chadian, one Portuguese, one Belgian, one Algerian and one Canadian.
Egyptian military aircraft and ships are searching for debris and victims from the plane, whose passengers included two babies and a child. Greek, French and British authorities also joined the operation.
The White House says it's too early to say definitively what caused an EgyptAir flight to crash into the Mediterranean Sea.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest says investigators will consider all factors and possibilities. He says nothing has been ruled in or out. Earnest says the U.S. is ready to help with the investigation and that the U.S. Navy is working to deploy a P-3 Orion aircraft in the search.
The White House says President Barack Obama is getting multiple updates about the crash. Earnest says the president is sending his prayers to families of those on the place. Earnest says U.S. national security and aviation experts are in contact with their counterparts in France and Egypt to offer assistance.