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French president confirms EgyptAir flight crash

CAIRO: An EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo crashed into the Mediterranean on Thursday with 66 people on board prompting an investigation into whether it was mechanical failure or a bomb.

There were no immediate reports of the discovery of any debris in the area of sea between the Greek islands and the Egyptian coast where the plane vanished from radar screens.

But French President Francois Hollande confirmed that the plane had “crashed” and the Paris prosecutor s office said its accident department had opened an investigation.

The plane fell 22,000 feet and swerved sharply in Egyptian airspace before it disappeared from radar screens; Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos told a news conference.

Egypt and Greece both said they had dispatched aircraft and naval vessels on a search mission and they were expected to be joined by French teams.

Fifteen French citizens were among the 26 foreign passengers on the EgyptAir flight, who also included a Briton and a Canadian.

Both France and Egypt have come under attack by jihadists of the Islamic State group in the past year and Hollande promised a comprehensive investigation into the cause of the crash as suspicions swiftly focused on a bomb.

“We must ensure that we know everything on the causes of what happened. No hypothesis is ruled out or favoured,” he said in a televised address.

“Whether it was an accident or another hypothesis that everyone has on their mind — a terrorist hypothesis… at this stage we must focus on our solidarity with the families and the search for the causes of the catastrophe.”

IS has been waging a deadly insurgency against Egyptian security forces and last October claimed the bombing of a Russian airliner flying home holidaymakers from the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, which killed all 224 people on board.

France earlier called a crisis meeting of top ministers as Prime Minister Manuel Valls said “no theory can be ruled out” to explain the plane s disappearance.

EgyptAir said contact was lost with the flight about 280 kilometres (175 miles) north of the Egyptian coast. (AFP)