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EgyptAir Flight MS804 crash: what we know

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

EgyptAir Flight MS804, en route to Cairo, disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea Thursday morning, crashing about three hours after it took off from Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport.

The Egyptian military has confirmed search and rescue teams have found debris from the aircraft and some the personal belongings of its passengers north of Alexandria, Egypt. While officials still have not confirmed the cause of the crash, Egypt's aviation minister said the possibility of a terrorist attack is "stronger" than that of a mechanical failure.

EgyptAir's vice president told CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour that "all maintenance checks on the plane had been done on time," and the plane was "fine and healthy" at take off.

It was a sudden disappearance 10 miles into Egyptian airspace — Greek air traffic controllers said they had maintained communications with the plane minutes before handing off controls.

This is the second major incident for EgyptAir this year, after another flight was hijacked in late March.

What we know:

Javier Zarracina
  • According to EgyptAir, Flight MS804, bound for Cairo from Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport at around 11 pm Wednesday, lost contact with the airline 10 miles into Egyptian airspace, EgyptAir reported. The plane was flying at 37,000 feet when it disappeared from the radar.
  • The Egyptian military found debris from the wreckage and some personal belongings from the passengers about 180 miles north of Alexandria. This debris is different than the wreckage previously reported to have been found south of Greek island Karpathos, which EgyptAir later confirmed was not actually from their aircraft.
  • The plane had 66 passengers aboard, including 10 crew members. Among the passengers were 30 Egyptians, 15 French citizens, two Iraqis, one Briton, one Belgian, one Sudanese, one Chadian, one Portuguese, one Algerian, one Canadian, one Kuwaiti, and one Saudi, EgyptAir reported. Three children were on board.
  • French President François Hollande, who confirmed the plane crashed and disappeared, said France would send ships and planes to reinforce Egypt's rescue teams.

What we don't know:

  • Search and rescue teams are still trying to locate the plane's black box recorders to better understand the cause of the crash.
  • After numerous conflicting reports, it has become increasingly clear that officials cannot definitively say what happened right before the plane crashed until the black box has been retrieved. Initially, reports said the plane made abrupt turns before crashing — a 90-degree left turn, then a full circle — and plunged as it turned, going from 37,000 feet to 15,000 feet and then 9,000 feet, according to the New York Times, which cited the Greek defense minister. However, now the head of Egypt's National Air Navigation Services Company says the plane did not deviate from its course before crashing, according to CNN. There was no distress signal from the plane before it crashed.
  • A probe is underway to uncover why the plane crashed. Hollande said they have not ruled out the possibility of this being a terrorist attack. "No hypothesis should be ruled out," he said in his statement. EgyptAir and Egyptian officials, while not ruling out the possibility, have not confirmed any of these reports at this time. Search teams have recovered some body remains from the crash site, but forensics officials have not agreed whether or not that implies there was an explosion, the Guardian reported.
  • Officials have yet to confirm fatalities from the crash, however EgyptAir has extended their "deepest sorrow" to the families and friends of those on board.