An EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo disappeared from radar early Thursday, and authorities say the jet crashed.
What we know
- 56 passengers were onboard, along with seven crew and three security personnel
- The Airbus was about 10 miles into Egyptian airspace at nearly 37,000 feet when it vanished from radar at about 3:29 a.m. local time.
- No Americans were on board. The passenger manifest is predominantly Egyptian and French nationals. Three children are among the passengers.
- French President Francois Hollande confirmed the plane crashed and France has opened an investigation into the flight’s disappearance.
Egyptian authorities did not immediately rule out terrorism or a technical failure. A top Egyptian official said it was more likely the jet was downed by a terror attack than technical problems.
EgyptAir in a statement said that they have found debris from the missing plane off the coast of Greece.
EgyptAir confirmed the names of the pilot of Flight 804 and the remainder of its crew to NBC News Thursday evening.
The captain of the flight was Mohamed Said Aly Aly Shakeer, according to EgyptAir, and his co-pilot was Mohamed Ahmed Mamdouh Ahmed Assem.
EgyptAir confirmed the names of the air hostess crew to NBC News as: Mervat Zaki Zakri Mohamed, Atef Lutfy Abdel Lateef Amin, Samir Ezzedin Safwat Youssef, Haitham Mostafa Azz al Hameed Al Azzizi and Yara Hani Farag Tawfiq.
The members of the flight's security team were Mohamed Ahmed Abd al Razak Abd al Kareem, Ahmed Mohamed Magdy Ahmad and Mohamed Abdel Monim Al Ghoneimy al Kyal.
The New York Times initially reported the names of the pilots earlier Thursday afternoon, adding that Shakeer was 36 years old and Mamdouh was 24.
An Egyptian interior minister told the newspaper that the two men had "no known political affiliations" and had passed periodic background checks.
The pilot of the missing plane had 6,275 flying hours, including 2,101 flying hours on an Airbus 320, EgyptAir said. His co-pilot had 2,766 flying hours, the airline said.
FBI Director James Comey said Thursday afternoon there have been no claims of responsibility in the crash of EgyptAir Flight 804 that he is aware of so far.
"With respect to the EgyptAir incident, so far at least we have no claim of responsibility or evidence that this was an intentional attack," Comey said at an event at the FBI Chicago field office.
"Given that we don’t see indication yet of cause so far, it’s hard to say what the implications might be at this point," he said.
But the FBI is working with its partners around the world "to try and gain a better understanding of what happened," Comey said.
"We don’t know what that was yet," Comey said, referring to the cause of the crash.
A senior Greek air safety official said Thursday evening that debris found in Mediterranean Sea does not belong to an aircraft, according to the Associated Press.
The AP reported that Athanassios Binis, head of Greece's Air Accident Investigation and Aviation Safety Board, told state ERT TV that "an assessment of the finds showed that they do not belong to an aircraft." This has been confirmed with Egyptian authorities, Binis told ERT TV.
The information seemed to contradict a statement released earlier Thursday by EgyptAir.
According to an EgyptAir Facebook post, the Egyptian Ministry of Civil Aviation said that debris from the crashed flight was found near the Greek island of Karpathos.
The statement did not specify what kind of debris was found, but said family members of the passengers and staff aboard the plane had been notified and that the search continued for "other remains of the missing plane."
EgyptAir later retracted its statement that the wreckage had been found in an interview on CNN.
"We stand corrected on that," Ahmed Adel, Vice President of EgyptAir told the network on Thursday afternoon.
Adel said he had initially received information "through some officials channels" that the wreckage had been found.
"Then later on after they got close to what was thought was the wreckage of EgyptAir, they realized it's not our aircraft," he said.
Here's a look at some of the major incidents involving EgyptAir:
- March 29, 2016: A hijacker took dozens of hostages aboard EgyptAir Flight 181 en route from Alexandria to Cairo. He diverted the flight after claiming to have an explosive belt. The incident appeared to have stemmed from a "personal matter" involving a woman. The hijacker was arrested after an hours-long standoff, authorities said. The belt was later deemed a fake.
- May 7, 2002: EgyptAir Flight 843 crashed while approaching Tunis-Carthage International Airport in Tunisia, killing three of six crew members and 11 of the 56 passengers on board, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
- Oct. 31, 1999: The crash of EgyptAir Flight 990, which took off from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York headed for Cairo, killed all 217 people on board after its co-pilot switched off the autopilot and pointed the Boeing 757 downward, according to U.S. authorities. Egyptian officials rejected this theory, and said the crash was a result of a mechanical error.
- Nov. 23, 1985: Flight MS848, headed from Athens to Cairo, was seized by terrorists and diverted to Malta. Egyptian troops stormed the aircraft after negotiations with hijackers failed, but the assailants fought back with hand grenades, leading to the deaths of 60 of the 90 passengers aboard.
- Dec. 25, 1976: EgyptAir Flight 864 was headed to Bangkok, Thailand, from Cairo when it crashed into a textile factory near the runway at Don Muang Airport in dense fog, according to the New York Times. All 52 people on board were killed along with scores of factory workers.
Infrared and multi-spectral imagers strongly suggest there was an explosion aboard the flight, a senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the U.S.'s capabilities in the region told NBC News. He reaffirmed that a cause of the crash remains unknown, and Egyptian officials have not commented on any possible blast.
“It’s not conclusive, but it’s suggestive,” a U.S. administration official concurred. “Now, the question is, if there was an explosion, what caused it? Mechanical failure? Explosives? No idea at this point.”
Flight records reveal the doomed EgyptAir jetliner was flown frequently over the past week, crisscrossing from its home airport in Cairo to parts of Africa and Europe.
On Wednesday night, it was on a return trip to Cairo from Paris before it vanished from radar. A timeline of the ill-fated jet's itinerary and its last known movements indicate it lost communication unexpectedly under mysterious circumstances.
Read the full story here.
Wreckage from the jet has been found near Karpathos Island in the Mediterranean Sea, EgyptAir said in a statement.
The Egyptian Ministry of Civil Aviation received an official letter from the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs "declaring the finding of wreckage of the missing aircraft No. MS 804 near Karpathos Island," the airline said in a statement posted to its social media accounts Thursday.
"EGYPTAIR sincerely conveys its deepest sorrow to the families and friends of the passengers onboard Flight MS804," the statement continued.
Family members of passengers and crew have already been informed, EgyptAir said, adding that its investigative team was working with their Greek counterparts to "search for other remains of the missing plane."
A man who would have been aboard the doomed jet had he not switched flights two weeks ago feels grateful for his good fortune.
"Honestly, I'm really lucky," Mounir Namour told AP Television at Charles de Gaulle Airport on Thursday afternoon. "I don't know. I was really lucky not to have left on this flight."
He spoke to the AP at the same airport and terminal from which MS804 departed Wednesday night.
"It was really difficult when I saw the news flash — I had knots in my stomach and I have had it ever since then," he said. "Arriving at the airport, even my parents told me not to get on board the plane. But there you go."
In a speech at NATO's headquarters in Brussels, Secretary of State John Kerry expressed his condolences to those aboard the flight.
"I want to express my condolences to Egypt and to all other countries impacted by the disappearance earlier this morning of the EgyptAir flight over the Mediterranean," he said. "The U.S. is providing assistance in the search effort and relevant authorities are doing everything they can to try to find out what the facts are of what happened today."
EgyptAir urged caution against reports that possible plane debris had been found in the Mediterranean Sea.
The airline has warned media repeatedly on Thursday about unverified information relating to the disappearance of Flight MS804.
At the request of the Greek government, a U.S. Navy P-3 aircraft has joined the search and rescue mission for the jet. It took off not long ago:
Loved ones of passengers on the crashed EgyptAir flight are only beginning to grapple with the tragedy. For more photos, click here.
A live map from the vessel tracking system MarineTraffic shows real-time movement of ships engaged in the search operation for the EgyptAir jet.
The flight is presumed to have crashed in the Mediterranean Sea about 130 nautical miles south-southeast of the Greek island of Karpathos.
There was "nothing finite, nothing specific" in recent monitored chatter by extremist groups regarding an upcoming attack on aviation, two U.S. Intelligence officials told NBC News.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the two sources added there was no information that yet confirmed "foul play."
The head of Russia's security service said Thursday that the EgyptAir jet was likely the victim of "a terrorist attack," the country's state-run TASS news agency reported.
It was not clear how FSB boss Alexander Bortnikov came to this conclusion, as Russian officials were not directly involved in the investigation to find the missing plane.
"Unfortunately, another incident with an aircraft of Egypt airlines took place today. It was most likely a terrorist attack," Bortnikov told a meeting, according to TASS.
He urged "all interested parties, including our partners in Europe, to take joint measures to identify persons involved in this terrible attack."
President Barack Obama was briefed by his Homeland Security adviser after the Egyptian jetliner went missing over the Mediterranean Sea en route from Paris to Cairo, a White House official said.
French officials said the plane crashed, and Egyptian authorities did not immediately rule out terrorism or a technical failure.
"The President asked to be updated throughout the day as the situation warrants, and directed Administration officials to reach out to their international counterparts to offer support and assistance," the White House official said in a statement.
The former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates cautioned against definitively linking the Egyptian jetliner crash with terrorism after presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump tweeted it "looks like yet another terrorist attack."
Egypt's civil aviation minister has said a terrorist act can't be ruled out. At a news conference, he declined to speculate about what happened.
"I think it prejudges the outcome," Gates said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" about Trump's tweet.
"And let's just suppose that it turns out not to be a terrorist event. Then what do you say having made these allegations and so on," he added. "So it's always better to wait until you actually know what the facts are before you open up."
Some of the French passengers' families are set to fly from Paris to Cairo on Thursday afternoon, the press office of Paris' airport told NBC News.
Fifteen of the 56 passengers aboard EgyptAir MS804 were French nationals, the second largest contingent after the 30 Egyptians aboard. Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport said some of their families would fly on a regular EgyptAir service between the two cities at 3:45 p.m. local time (9:45 a.m.ET).
Search teams have spotted what could be debris from crashed EgyptAir Flight MS804, according to reports.
A Greek military official told The Associated Press that an Egyptian search plane had located two orange items believed to be from the missing plane. The official said the items were found 230 miles south-southeast of the island of Crete, according to the AP.
It was not immediately clear what suggested the items might be from the missing jet.
The deputy spokesman of the Greek Army General Staff told NBC News that "findings" had been reported by Egyptian aircraft participating in the search.
Cmdr. Marios Tzanis said the Egyptian aircraft had spotted something that appeared to be metallic and what could be an orange lifejacket in the sea about 210 miles southeast of Crete.