JERUSALEM, Israel – An EgyptAir jetliner en route from Paris to Cairo with 66 people aboard swerved wildly in flight and crashed in the Mediterranean Sea early Thursday, authorities said.
The possibility of a terror attack is one of the main considerations of what may have happened.
The EgyptAir flight left Charles DeGaulle Airport in Paris at 11:09 p.m. local time and disappeared from radar at 2:30 a.m., nearly 3.5 hours later.
The plane was flying at an altitude of 37,000 feet when it lost contact with air control about 10 minutes before it disappeared from radar and about 10 minutes into Egyptian airspace over the Mediterranean Sea.
Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said the plane spun all the way around and suddenly lost altitude just before vanishing from radar screens around 2:45 a.m. Egyptian time.
He said it made a 90-degree left turn, then a full 360-degree turn toward the right, plummeting to 15,000 feet. It disappeared at about 10,000 feet.
Hours later, Egypt's Civil Aviation Ministry said that life jackets, plastic items, and other floating objects had been found, and authorities were trying to confirm whether the debris was from the plane.
Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi cautioned that the disaster was still under investigation but said the possibility it was a terror attack "is higher than the possibility of having a technical failure."
Alexander Bortnikov, chief of Russia's top domestic security agency, went further, saying "In all likelihood it was a terror attack."
Israeli terrorism expert Dr. Michael Barak, a senior researcher and lecturer in counterterrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, told CBN News the crash of the Egypt Air flight could be the work of ISIS.
The Egyptian government is currently fighting ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula. ISIS is also calling on all Islamic groups to target Egypt.
Barak also noted that jihadi groups say France is a legitimate target too so hitting an Egyptian plane coming from France would be like killing two birds with one stone.
In addition, Barak suggested that someone who supports ISIS working at the Charles DeGaulle Airport might have slipped a bomb on the plane. In the Brussels airport bombing in March, one of the attackers worked at the airport.
Egypt has a troubled history. In March, an EgyptAir flight was hijacked and diverted to Cyprus by a man described as "psychologically unstable."
Last October, a Russian passenger plane was downed over the Sinai, killing all 224 people on board. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, which was likely the work of an airline employee who smuggled a bomb on board the plane.
Meanwhile in both France and Egypt, family members are worried and waiting for news of their loved ones.
If terror is involved, it would be a catastrophic breach of security for the Charles DeGaulle Airport, one of the most important airports in the world.
The ramifications could lead to increased security checks around the world, affect air traffic, hurt economies and likely lead to smaller lines at airport security.