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EgyptAir Flight Crashes In Mediterranean Sea After Disappearing From Radar


We begin with the latest news about the EgyptAir passenger jet that disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea early this morning. It's still unclear whether this was an accident or an act of terrorism. The plane was traveling from Paris to Cairo with 66 passengers and crew onboard. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley joins us now from Paris. Hi, Eleanor.


SHAPIRO: What do we know so far about what happened?

BEARDSLEY: Well, Ari, we don't know a lot more than we did this morning. I mean, all of France woke up to this. We know that it left Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport last night at 11. It was to arrive at 3 a.m., and at about 2:30, it just disappeared from radar screens. They didn't get any kind of SOS signal, distress call. It had just entered Egyptian airspace, and it disappeared.

SHAPIRO: What is the state of the families of the passengers who were just waiting all day for news?

BEARDSLEY: Well, I can't even imagine. They were taken away at the - at Charles de Gaulle airport to a nearby hotel, and there were psychologists and counselors on hand. And then EgyptAir flew a dozen are so of them to Cairo later today so they could be there, you know, when they do find the plane and when the investigation begins. So we journalists at the airport weren't allowed to see them. They were shielded by a curtain. You can - you probably - no one can imagine what they're going through.

SHAPIRO: What have we heard today from officials in the French and Egyptian governments?

BEARDSLEY: Well, Hollande - Francois Hollande, the president, was the first to sort of say what everyone sort of was thinking but no one wanted to say - this plane has crashed. He came out, and he said, this plane has been damaged, and is lost. He expressed solidarity, you know, with the families, and Egypt and France are working very closely together to find out what happened.

And of course, he said it could be an accident or, we are all thinking, terrorism. It could be. We will rule nothing out at this point. And the civil aviation minister in Egypt said that a terrorist attack was probably more likely that an accident because this was a very good plane, and these were very experienced pilots. And EgyptAir has a good safety record.

SHAPIRO: Eleanor, you were in Paris which suffered that awful terrorist attack in November. Security at Charles de Gaulle airport must've been very tight.

BEARDSLEY: It is so tight, Ari. They have doubled soldiers and police patrolling with, you know, military assault weapons. That have facial recognition in the cameras now. The security is very tight. Employees, even policemen guarding the airport, are all searched when they come into the airport now, and authorities go through their lockers regularly. So security is very tight. But as, you know, aviation analysts were saying, nothing is ever 100 percent secure.

And this brought something up - the fact that the flight came from Cairo and it spent about 90 minutes on the tarmac in Paris being cleaned, being refueled. They checked safety measures. But they don't check it for bombs or - and that same plane also was in Tunis, Tunisia, on the same day and in Eritrea. So that had many of the analysts talking about, you know, could something have placed something on the plane during that moment? And this was a conversation I had never heard before. I've covered some plane crashes, and that was the first time I'd heard that.

SHAPIRO: And what else are you hearing today in Paris? What have people been saying about all of this?

BEARDSLEY: Well, people are just - one woman said it always come in series, so there's going to be something else. But you know, shock but almost like expecting it - no, not expecting it. We don't know that it's terrorism - but just shocked and saddened and - here we go again and just sort of the same old feelings, reliving them.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Eleanor Beardsley speaking with us from Paris. Thanks, Eleanor.

BEARDSLEY: Thank you, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.