Paris, May 20 (IANS) French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault confirmed on Thursday that EgyptAir flight MS804 went missing 20 minutes before landing.
Ayrault made the remarks at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport where he will meet the families of the French passengers, Xinhua quoted Le Figaro as saying.
“France is in contact with Egyptian and Greek authorities,” said Ayrault, who did not want to reveal any hypothesis out of respect to the families.
During a phone conversation with his Egyptian counterpart, Jean-Marc Ayrault expressed France’s solidarity with Egypt over this terrible event that concerns also French nationals, French Foreign ministry spokesman Quai d’Orsay said on Thursday.
The two countries’ foreign ministries agreed to “the need for a close coordination between the two countries in the assistance to the families of the passengers, as well as in the investigation for the cause of the disappearance”.
After an urgent inter-ministerial meeting at the Elysee earlier on Thursday, Ayrault confirmed there are 15 French nationals on board the ill-fated MS804.
French President Francois Hollande and his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, also vowed on Thursday to “work closely to establish as soon as possible the circumstances of the disappearance” of EgyptAir MS804, the Elysee said.
Speaking to local radio, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the French government is “in close contact with the Egyptian military and civil authorities.”
“France is ready to participate in the searches,” he said, adding that “no hypothesis can be excluded on the causes of the disappearance.
The plane was carrying 56 passengers, including one child and two infants, the Egyptian airline confirmed on its Twitter account.
The plane, which took off at 11:09 p.m. local time (2109 GMT), was flying at an altitude of 37,000 feet (11,280 meters) when losing contact with the radar at 2:45 a.m. Cairo time (0045 GMT), an official source in the airline said.
According to EgyptAir, besides the 15 French nationals, passengers also include 30 Egyptians, two Iraqis, one British, one Belgian, one Portuguese, one Algerian, one Chadian, one Saudi, one Kuwaiti, one Sudanese and one Canadian.