[CAIRO] A search and rescue operation was under way on Thursday after an EgyptAir flight with 69 people on board vanished from radar en route from Paris to Cairo, the airline said.
A tweet on the airline’s official account said flight MS804 left Paris at 11.09 pm local time (2109 GMT), “heading to Cairo (and) has disappeared from radar”.
Further tweets in Arabic said contact was lost at 2.45 am Cairo time (0045 GMT), when the plane was just inside Egyptian airspace and at an altitude of 11,000m.
There were 59 passengers and 10 crew aboard, according to the airline. “EGYPTAIR has contacted the concerned authorities and bodies and inspection is underway through the rescue teams,” another tweet in English said.
The flight from Paris Charles de Gaulle to Cairo normally takes just over four hours and the plane was due to arrive at 3:05 am local time. The Flightradar24 website said MS804 is an Airbus A320-232, and was delivered to the airline in 2003.
EgyptAir hit the headlines in March when a flight from Alexandria to Cairo was hijacked and forced to divert to Cyprus, where the “unstable” hijacker demanded to see his ex-wife.
In October, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for bombing a Russian airliner carrying holidaymakers from the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, killing all 224 people on board.
The disappearance of the jet on Thursday comes more than two years after the start of one of the most enduring mysteries in aviation history.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 vanished on March 8, 2014 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew onboard, mostly Chinese and Malaysians.
Authorities believe the Boeing 777 detoured to the remote southern Indian Ocean and then plunged into the water. The costly, painstaking search for a crash site has yet to yield results, but five pieces of debris have been identified as either definitely or probably from the jet, all found thousands of kilometres from the search zone, likely swept there by ocean currents.
Theories to explain the disappearance include a possible mechanical or structural failure, a hijacking or terror plot, or rogue pilot action.