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EgyptAir Flight MS804 disappears off radar with 66 on board; no sign of debris

By Shawn Price, Ed Adamczyk and Doug G. Ware
1/10
EgyptAir Flight MS804 disappears off radar with 66 on board; no sign of debris
Armed police patrol past the EgyptAir counter Thursday at the departure hall of Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. EgyptAir Flight MS804 disappeared early Thursday morning on its way from Paris to Cairo, likely killing all 66 people on board. Photo by Eco Clement/UPI | License Photo

CAIRO, May 19 (UPI) -- What was earlier believed to be wreckage from EgyptAir Flight MS804, discovered floating in the Mediterranean Sea, did not come from the missing jetliner, an airline official said Thursday afternoon.

EgyptAir Vice Chairman Ahmed Adel said a statement he made earlier about the debris coming from the passenger jet was not accurate.

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"We stand corrected on finding the wreckage because what we identified is not a part of our plane. So the search and rescue is still going on," he said.

The correction means the search for the missing Airbus 320 continues. The 12-year-old Cairo-bound jetliner disappeared from radar shortly after it entered Egyptian airspace around 2:45 a.m. Thursday. Controllers last spoke to the pilot about 25 minutes before the plane disappeared, with no suggestion of a problem, Constantine Litzerakos, Greek civil aviation chief, told Antenna TV.

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The plane left Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport around 11:09 p.m. Wednesday.

A Greek Ministry of Defense official told ABC News that before contact with the aircraft was lost, it made a 90-degree left turn, then a 360-degree turn before dropping 20,000 feet in altitude.

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Rescue teams were sent to look for the plane and any possible survivors. The U.S. Navy joined the search, launching from an air base in Sicily Thursday afternoon.

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The plane carried 56 passengers, two pilots, five cabin crew members and three security personnel. There were 30 Egyptians on board, as well as 15 from France, two from Iraq, and one each from Britain, Belgium, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Chad, Portugal, Algeria and Canada.

The official cause of the crash is not yet known but investigators have said terrorism is possible, as is a mechanical malfunction. U.S. officials said earlier Thursday that they were also looking into the possibility of a bomb on board.

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The possibility of terrorism was hinted at by a statement from the office of French President Francois Hollande Thursday, which said a "crisis cell" was "actioned immediately."

Greece sent military aircraft and a frigate to search for the plane. A directive from Egypt's National Security Council, issued after a meeting of the council with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, ordered Egyptian military aircraft and vessels to continue search efforts.

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Search and recovery teams will continue to look for the jetliner's "black boxes" -- conflicting reports which emit a beacon signal for about 30 days after a crash. The boxes provide critical technical data from the flight as well as voice recordings from the cockpit.

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The Paris prosecutor's office initiated an inquiry into the plane's disappearance, the newspaper Le Figaro reported.

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