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EgyptAir flight with 66 people disappears

Cairo, May 19 (IANS) An EgyptAir flight with 66 people on board heading from Paris to Cairo disappeared from the radar on Thursday.

There was a distress call from the flight at 4.26 a.m., nearly two hours after the plane disappeared from the radar, the airline said in a statement.

The plane took off from Paris at 11.09 p.m. and was expected to land in Cairo at 3.15 a.m. It lost contact with the radar at 2.45 a.m.

The Airbus A320 had 56 passengers, including two infants, and 10 crew members, said Captain Ahmed Adel, vice chairman of EgyptAir.

The 56 passengers were 30 Egyptians, 15 French nationals, two Iraqis, and one each from Britain, Belgium, Sudan, Chad, Portugal, Algeria, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Al Jazeera reported citing the airline as saying.

The plane was flying at 37,000 ft when it disappeared 16 km after entering Egyptian airspace.

Egypt and Greece have launched maritime searches for the missing flight, the Egyptian army said.

The French government will hold an emergency meeting to discuss the plane’s disappearance, French President Francois Hollande’s office has said.

“The President talked to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi about the disappearance of the EgyptAir flight between Paris and Cairo. They agreed to cooperate closely to establish the circumstances of the disappearance as soon as possible,” said a press release from the Elysee Palace.

Aviation experts said the plane probably lost contact with ground radar above the Mediterranean Sea.

“Apparently it was just short of Egyptian airspace, so it was likely over the Mediterranean, because the Greek airspace joins the Egyptian airspace around that area,” aviation safety consultant Keith Mackey told Al Jazeera, adding “So that is probably where they will be looking.”

Conditions were clear and calm when the plane crossed over the Mediterranean Sea, weather analysts said.

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