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tv   CNN Tonight With Don Lemon  CNN  May 19, 2016 12:00am-1:01am PDT

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>> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. we want to welcome those of you tuned in from here in the states and those of you watching from all around the world. i'm errol barnett. >> and i'm rosemary church. we are following breaking news on missing egyptair flight 804.
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>> greek and egyptian rescue crews right now are searching the southern mediterranean by air and by sea for an egyptair plane that disappeared from radar. that airbus a-320 was carrying 66 people from paris to cairo. the airline says last contact with the jetliner was 280 kilometers or 175 miles off the egyptian coast. that's about halfway between greece and egypt. >> egyptian aviation officials tell reuters they believe the plane probably crashed into the sea. egyptair says there was a distress signal nearly two hours after last contact. that timeline is a little murky. we're not completely sure of it. we believe that could mean a distress signal from the plane's emergency beacons. but again we don't know that either. >> there are wipdespread implications to this single flight. we've learned the nationalities of the passengers on board.
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egy egypt -- you see the list includes passengers from britain, chad, portugal, algeria, canada, and sudan. >> our ian lee joins us now from cairo, egypt, where the flight was of course supposed to land safely. ian, let's talk about this distress signal because it seems to be that we need some sort of clarification. it now appears that they're backing away from the possibility that this was from the plane. what are you learning on that? >> reporter: yeah. this is where all the question marks are right now because this distress signal, we're told, was issued at 4:26 a.m. local time here in cairo, that the armed forces detected this signal. but the signal comes almost two hours after the plane disappeared from radar. we talked to the vice president
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of egypt air to clarify about this. he told us that this signal could possibly be from something else in the mediterranean, a boat in the mediterranean. he said that it is not certain that it is from the plane. but he also said that it is possible that after the plane disappeared, if it did crash, that they would be able to receive a distress signal from the plane. so really not many answers there. that is what we know. but egyptian officials are looking into that right now. the armed forces are scouring the area, looking for any sort of debris, any survivors. that is their main mission right now. but if this distress signal was from the plane after two hours, it could give some hope that there possibly are some survivors. but ath this point, we just dont know any more about that
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distress signal or, for that matter, if they found the plane or not. >> yeah, it is always such a fluid situation, particularly just a matter of hours after a situation like this. a plane goes missing. we don't know what exactly happened. we are trying to piece it together as we go along. and of course we learned too that egyptair's vice president was saying now that he's not confirming that the plane crashed. this interesting because we heard from some officials that they were assuming that it had crashed into the mediterranean. what are you learning about that? >> reporter: that's right. we talked to the vice president just a short time ago, and he told us that they are not confirming the crash even though we are hearing other reports. but it does seem like this plane would have crashed by now. it's been almost six hours. it's been six hours since the plane disappeared. it should have been here in
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cairo. if they aren't able to detect it anywhere else, the likelihood really increases by the minute that this plane did, indeed, crash although egyptian officials again, the ones we are talking to, the vice president of egyptair, still not going that far as to say that this plane has crashed. >> and just very quickly, ian, of course we're looking at these pictures from the airport there. a lot of distressed family and friends, the loved ones waiting to hear more information on this. what sort of support systems are in place for them? >> reporter: yeah, i think that's the big thing here, rosemary. we need to remember that there were 66 people onboard this flight. 56 passengers. there were two infants. there was one child. we've seen some family members here at the airport coming, and egyptair has a home for them to meet with transls, to meet with counselors, to meet with
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doctors who are here to assist them. egyptair officials are also there to assist them. and as you can imagine, emotions are running high right now. you do see these family members coming to the airport, a lot of them in tears, a lot of them wondering what's going on. many of them walking quickly past the press, not giving any comments. and probably, you know, very distraught and it can be justified. right now, though, egyptair trying to assist them and get them the information they need about their loved ones. and also i need to mention there were ten crew members aboard that plane. their families also wanting answers as well. >> very distressing situation there for people in egypt and in france and of course other nations all involved in this. thank you so much to our ian lee, bringing us up to date on the situation there from cairo in egypt. >> let's cross now to the
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location where this flight originated, paris. jim bittermann is there and can update us. jim, as in the case in cairo, surely relatives and friends of passengers on that plane will also be heading to the charles defall airpo gaulle airport thee information. what can you tell us about the emergency meeting, we understand, which is set to get under way? >> reporter: well, it's already under way. this is fairly standard procedure. basically it's a way for the president to make sure he's up to speed on what is happening. he gathers his ministers in any kind of a crisis here, and this is, of course -- that meeting started about a half hour ago with the top minministers, the minister of foreign affairs and others who are gathered at the presidential palace. and basically too get everyone up to speed and on the same page as far as their information is
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concerned. out at the airport, there has in fact been a couple of crisis centers set up, one which is secret, and that's for the families. its location is not being disclosed, and it's not clear that a lot of families are gathering because the fact is that these people would have said good-bye to their loved ones three hours before the crash was reported. so it's not necessarily the case that they would go back to the airport for information. the other crisis center is for the press and others who might want to talk to the press, and that's been set up at a hotel out there. so they've got a couple of crisis centers there. there is a center of crisis operations at the foreign ministry with a phone number where people can call if they want to have the latest information from the foreign ministry. and that, again, is kind of standard operating procedure when there's any kind of a tragedy in the making like this. so a number of things that are going on here, but basically they're waiting to see what happens as far as the egyptian search effort is concerned.
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the president, president hollande, spoke to president el sisi of egypt a couple of hours after the flight was reported missing and offered to give any help he could as far as the french assets in the mediterranean are concerned in the search effort. it's note clear that they've asked for any because the area as we've said earlier in the broadcast, that area is very intensely covered by any number of other navys. so there may be no necessity for the french to get involved, but they are going to be involved in the investigation and the aftermath of this if it's confirmed the plane has crashed. it's still not confirmed, i guess, from the egyptair side. in any case they'll be deeply involved in the investigation because of the fact there are french people on board, the people left from here, and it's a french made aircraft, the airbus, the investigating agency, they're going to be heavily involved. and we heard immediate reports
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here that they have teams ready to take off in the next few hours for cairo. errol. >> as you've been speaking, jim, we're looking at live pictures, i believe, from charles de gaulle airport from the press crisis meeting. it's nine past 9:00 in the morning there. and certainly as people wake up and learn of what's taken place, interest in this will build as the day goes on. but we will certainly gather more information as we get it and share it with our viewers. jim bittermann live for us in paris. rosemary. >> all right. we do want to bring in jeffrey thomas now. he is the editor in chief of airline ratings.com, and he joins us live from perth, australia. always good to talk to you and get your expert advice on this. of course we're getting information here from our own richard quest, our aviation correspondent. he's saying about this distress signal, which is very much front and center right now -- he's saying that his best guess is that this is some form of an activated water device or crash
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device. the emergency locator transmitter, e.l.t. now, he said it could be a life raft perhaps or something else that's broken apart from the plane. how important, how critical, could this be in the search effort, do you think? >> look, the electronic locator beacon is very important, and there are numerous reports now that various authorities, various search authorities have located this beacon and are zeroing in on it. i think this is where there's been some confusion about the distress call. i don't believe there was a distress call from the pilots. this distress call is in fact an electronic one, with i is what they're zeroing in on at the moment. we're also getting unconfirmed reports -- and i must stress they are unconfirmed from several sources, in fact, four different sources -- that there
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was an explosion seen in the night sky by a couple of merchant ships in the area. so the scenario that we are seeing is what we originally thought was the case, that there has been a catastrophic failure of this aircraft, and it has impacted the sea not far from where the contact was last lost with it. >> and when you hear that sort of information coming in, seeing an explosion in the night sky, what do you think in those terms because earlier you were thinking that you were eliminating mechanical problems? >> look, yes. i don't believe that this is a mechanical issue simply because of the fact that this plane simply disappeared off radar, off military radar, off commercial radar. there was, to our knowledge, no
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communication from the pilot or co-pilot themselves. the distress call that we had recently been told about, we now believe that's an electronic distress call from the aircraft's beacons. so the analysis is at the moment, given the information we have, is that this is a catastrophic explosion and not mechanical. >> right. and we do want to emphasize of course to our viewers that these witness reports of an explosion in the sky not confirmed at this point. it's always a very fluid situation as we keep reminding our viewers when we're covering breaking news like this, particularly associated with aircraft going missing and trying to figure out what has happened here. but talk to us about how you work through that process of elimination and how you come to
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your decision that this is a catastrophic situation. >> well, we obviously have been covering this industry for over 40 years, and we have looked at many, many tragedies. we also look at the sources of information. that's very important as you alluded to earlier with the metrojet crash in october last year out of egypt. one of the problems we had was significant misinformation from authorities. so you tend to learn that some authorities aren't very good at disseminating information, particularly when there's only one source of it rather than the military being involved, politicians being involved, the airline being involved, and other commentators. when you've got one reliable source, you can zero in on that. but when you -- and then on top of that, when you are getting
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reputable news agencies like yourselves reporting things and knowing the great lengths that cnn goes to to verify data, we also look at that very seriously. and so you get to know which is credible, which is not, and to put to one side these things that are possibly, you know, something -- some comment from a politician. and also one must take into consideration the language issue here. a lot gets lost in translation and that's something we have to be very careful of. >> exactly right. jeffrey thomas, thank you so much. >> we want to call on captain desmond ross now. he's a former pilot and current principal of dra professional aviation services. he joins us via webcam from istanbul, turkey, as we gather some of these details. and, captain ross, i just want to get your take on some sort of distress signal being detected
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by egyptian authorities. we're being careful to confirm exactly what it is because we just don't know. what do you make of that information at this very early stage? >> quite right. we don't know exactly, and i'm waiting myself for some further information which i hope to get very shortly. but basically there's three ways of doing it. on the radio, the captain or the co-pilot would say something on the radio, mayday, mayday, mayday, and that word would get out. the second way would be to set a code on the transponders, the famous transponder that was such a big issue with ms-370 and still is. by setting the correct code, a bloom will appear on the radar screen telling the controller that that aircraft is in difficulties. and then the third one is the emergency locator transmitter or e.l.t., which all aircraft are equipped with, must be, and that would transmit on impact, not before that. that is set so that it transmits
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when -- under g forces, when it hits the water or the ground or whatever. one of the problems for those elts is that they will go under the water with the aircraft. it won't float at this point in time, and that's actually a failing of the equipment because military aircraft are generally equipped with an elt which will detach from the aircraft on impact so that it would remain floating on the surface and at least allow certain teams to narrow down the location of the crash. basically it's a homing device which a ship or an aircraft would pick up and hone in on the location. i'm tipping that what we're seeing here is possibly that elt. if it was activated on impact with the water, it may no longer be audible because it would have probably sunk with the aircraft.
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it's difficult to know. we need to wait and see what happens. >> that's right. we're still waiting to get all the confirmed information. but what we do know at this point is that there was no mayday made from the plane, that it potentially could be this elt if, in fact, the aircraft went down in the mediterranean. our ian lee in cairo says that the egyptian air force, the navy, they are at the location, close in the vicinity where the aircraft was last detected. how much time do you think, knowing what we know about the mediterranean, until they can get a definitive answer as to what this signal is and where it's coming from? >> well, there is plenty of shipping traffic out there at the moment as we all know. i mean normally there's a lot of shipping traffic and there's more there at the moment because of the refugee crisis in europe. and i firmly believe that somebody will have seen something, and i do -- i give quite a lot of credibility to those reports of people having witnessed an explosion.
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so if that's the case, there's going to be debris on the surface of the water. so a few ships out there will pick up something, i would say quite quickly. i think we'll have a lot more information before this day is over. >> it's 18 minutes past 10:00 a.m. where you are in istanbul, turkey. it's 18 minutes past 9:00 just north of egypt. we're gathering more information on what this distress signal may have been, but it is clear that this aircraft with 66 souls onboard has gone missing. stay with cnn as we continue to cover this breaking story.
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>> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. let's get you up to speed now on our breaking news. an egyptian aviation official says a distress signal came from the area in which an egyptair flight vanished from radar. >> flight 804 went missing over the mediterranean sea as it
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headed from paris to cairo with 66 people onboard. conditions were clear and calm when the plane crossed the water. reuters is reporting egyptian aviation officials believe the plane crashed into the sea. greece is helping the egyptian military in the search for that plane. egypt is no stranger to headline-making incidents involving planes. back in november, 1985, gunmen hijack the an egypthai flight bound for athens and diverted the jet to malta. dozens of passengers were killed after egyptian troops raided plane. >> then in october 1999, after a stopover in new york, egyptair flight 990 crashed into the atlantic ocean killing all 217 people onboard. investigators later concluded the co-pilot deliberately caused that crash. >> and then more recently a metrojlightas downed in egypt's sinai peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. isis claimed responsibility for
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that, saying it smuggled a bomb on board the russian plane. while this was not an asked hi safety record of egypt air. >> reporter: that suggests systemic unsafety that i can see at this early point. one thing i'm slightly not concerned about but i think it's too soon to say, egyptair has already come out and said there was nothing on the manifest in terms of the cargo. there was nothing warning the pilot. if there is something like a large number of lithium batteries or some form of cargo that could either be perishable
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or dangerous or risky, then there's a notice to the captain that is given to them before they leave, basically saying, captain, you need to know this is in the hold. and what egyptair is saying is so far, they have no record of that. i think it's too soon frankly to be making that sort of judgment because what happens after an incident like this, rosemary, is that the airline has to start shutting down all the information systems as it relates to that flight because you've now got to collate the data. so you have to isolate that flight. that means the manifest, the cargo, the engineering, the maintenance records, the fuel delivery, what fuel was onboard, everything about that flight. if you are an airline, you are now isolating that data. you are preserving its integrity for the investigation and,
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crucially, you are preventing any unauthorized access to that data. and that's the process that egyptair will be undergoing at the moment. it's crucial because you're doing it at the same time as you're trying to verify who was onboard and make sure passengers are informed. with mh-370, i spoke to family relatives who told me it was 15, 18 hours after the plane went missing before malaysia airlines was able to ring them up and say, your loved one was onboard. >> it is so distressing. but, you know, we've got this new information now. we're hearing that routine maintenance checks were performed on the egyptair aircraft in cairo on wednesday, may 18th. that was before it left for paris. that's according to an egyptair official. what do you think of that? >> reporter: it is so way too soon to be making that sort of statement. what i'm guessing they're
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meaning is somebody has gone to the maintenance log and seen, for example, what happened on the walk-around of the aircraft or that a previous flight might have had something from the minimum equipment list, the m.e.l., that had been repaired, or the plane had just undergone a particular check, an overnight check of some sort. but i'd caution against giving any credence to these sort of comments because, you know, the people who are putting these statements out cannot, in this short period of time, have collated all the data necessary to make a statement like that with any definitive authority. >> our richard quest, aviation correspondent, talking to me just a short time ago. since then, he has sent us some information just on that distress signal that we've been talking about. he said his best guess is that this is some form of activated water device or crash device,
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the emergency locator transmitter, the elt. he said this will be very useful, of course, in locating this plane. all right. we're going to take a very short break, but we'll have more for you as we cover the missing egyptair 804 on the other side of that break. stay with us. formula available. fastel it's clinically proven to work on fine lines and... ...even deep wrinkles. "one week? that definitely works!" rapid wrinkle repair. and for dark spots, rapid tone repair. neutrogena®. "see what's possible."
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>> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. welcome back to our viewers from all around the world. i'm rosemary church. >> and i'm errol barnett. we are following breaking news this hour on the disappearance of egyptair flight 804. >> an airline official tells cnn a distress signal has been
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detected in the general vicinity of the plane's last known location 280 kilometers -- that's 175 miles -- off the egyptian coast. and it's in the middle of the mediterranean, about halfway between greece and egypt. >> now, at this stage, greek and egyptian rescue crews are searching the area by air and by sea for any sign of the plane. the airbus a-320 was carrying 66 people from paris to cairo, ten of them crew members, three of them security personnel. egyptian aviation officials tell reuters they believe the plane probably crashed into the sea using those words. our ian lee joins us now from cairo in egypt with more. ian, i just want to get you some information coming into us from greek officials who are saying that greek air traffic controllers did speak to the pilot of egyptair. the pilot didn't mention any problems at that time, and the
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plane exited greek airspace and then entered egypt's airspace. they then lost touch with the plane two minutes later. does that match up with what egyptian officials have been telling you about the plane's last known moments? >> reporter: so far, that is what we are hearing from egyptian officials, that they did not receive any sort of distress signal, a distress call before the plane disappeared from radar. we do have, in fact, a distress signal that they received two hours after the crash. they are investigating that. they are unsure what that is from. that could be from the plane. it could be from some other -- it could be from a ship in the sea. right now that is the only distress call that we are hearing about from egyptian officials. but what we're also hearing right now is that president el
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sisi of egypt is going to convene an emergency meeting of the national security council to talk about this plane crash. right now, it's important to note that we don't know the cause of the crash. was it mechanical? was it terror-related? we just don't know. so that is going to be one of the crucial elements as we move forward apart from trying to find this aircraft, find the wreckage, and hopefully find survivors. >> and time is of the essence if this aircraft did in fact go down in the mediterranean. our meteorologists are telling us based on weather conditions, a fit human can survive for many hours in the water. have officials given you any indication as to how long it will take before they can get a visual on the general vicinity? of course if there's an oil slick or debris, that will be key to confirming the crash itself. >> reporter: well, egyptian officials are telling us that
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the armed forces are on the site of where they believe the plane disappeared. they are searching the area. they have aircraft as well as boats searching the area. so they have been reporting back from what they have seen. but knowing that this plane was cruising at an altitude of 37,000 feet, depending if it did break up, it could be a wide search area. so it really is going to depend on the final moments of the plane if it did, in fact, crash. because right now, even though this plane has been missing for over six hours now, going on seven hours, egyptian officials we've been talking to have not called this a crash yet. they are saying that the plane disappeared, that they are searching for this plane. but six, seven hours after it disappeared without any idea where it could be, it's pretty
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safe to say that this plane has crashed although egyptian officials are not yet willing to make that call. the egyptian officials we've been talking to. >> everyone just trying to confirm what happened toward the end of this flight. greek officials saying when they spoke with the pilot, nothing seemed to be wrong at that time. and as you mentioned, the navy, the egyptian air force are at and close to the location where this plane was last detected. so we'll wait for more information. that's our ian leon the phoe on with us from cairo. >> france's prime minister says no theory can be ruled out regarding the cause of the plane's disappearance. >> that's right, french president hollande and his egyptian counterpart have agreed to cooperate closely with the investigation of this missing flight. >> we do want to bring in senior international correspondent jim bittermann who joins us from paris. jim, we know paris was the point
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of departure for this plane. 15 french citizens on board. an emergency meeting being held there in france over this missing egyptair flight. what are you learning on all of this? >> reporter: well, rosemary, that meeting ended a little bit ago. basically in these kinds of cases, it's the kind of thing that the president usually does. he calls in his top minister, the prime minister or the defense minister or foreign minister, et cetera. they were at the presidential palace here this morning for about a half hour, 45 minutes, talking over exactly what should be done from their standpoint. at this point. and basically afterwards, the prime minister and transport minister came out and said they're going to put the priority on the families basically. they're going to do whatever they can to help the families of those 15 french who were onboard as well as any other families who might find themselves in france. they've set up a crisis cell at the airport that's secret, away from the press. we're not being told where that
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is exactly, where they can come and get psychological and medical backup if they wish. but, in fact, these families would have said good-bye to their loved ones about three hours before the plane disappeared. so they are unlikely to have been at the airport. they might want to go back there at least to get the latest information. there's also a crisis cell that they can contact at the french foreign ministry. there's a special number they can call in there if they want to. but that's the priority for the government is addressing the needs of the families at this point. and they've also gone to some lengths to make it clear to the egyptian authorities they're willing to help in any way they can logistically for the search effort going on. the french do have a number of military assets in that part of the mediterranean. there might be some ships and air force planes out in that area that could be put into play if the egyptians feel it's necessary. and of course they're going to be very involved once they find the wreckage of this plane, if it is a crash that's taken
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please. egyptair is not confirming that. but if it has crashed and there is wreckage found, the french investigators would be deeply involved because this is an aircraft that was made in france and of course it departed from france. they'll want to know exactly what happened. rosemary. >> and still we don't know very much about what happened. but we're trying to stay on top of this. our jim bittermann bringing us up to date from paris, where egyptair flight 804 departed. we'll take a very short break right here. we'll be back in just a moment with our breaking news. whatcha' doin?
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>> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. welcome back. here's the newest information we have for you on our breaking news. greece and egypt are looking for missing egyptair flight 804.
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egyptian aviation officials tell reuters the airbus a-320 probably crashed into the mediterranean, but the egyptian p.m. is stepping away from that. egyptair says a distress signal was detected in the area where the plane disappeared, but it's possible that could be from some sort of activated water or crash device. >> the plane was flying at 37,000 feet when it vanished on its way from paris to cairo several hours ago. 56 passengers and 10 crew members were onboard that plane. >> let's bring in our international diplomatic editor now, nic robertson, who's gathering information from london. nic, the egyptian prime minister has just told local media that, quote, there is no confirmed information on the status of ms-804. and you also have greek aviation officials saying when they last had contact with the pilot, there was no sign or indication that there was any
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>> reporter: less communication was just as the aircraft passed out of greece air space into egyptian air space. that would likely be the sign of the pilot, the co-pilot talking to greek air authorities as they pass out of their air spas being handed off then to egyptian air authorities. we haven't heard from the egyptians yet about what communications they may or may not have had as the aircraft came into their air space. of course, that would be normal, passing the control of one nation's air space into the control of another nation, going into communication with them. this was -- became a problem and was noted during the mh-370 aircraft disappearance, that it was in a handover period where things began to go wrong and the aircraft went off course. this, of course, we have no details yet other than it was the greeks as far as we know were the last to speak to the pilot or the co-pilot on board
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that aircraft. what we are learning from egyptian authorities, however, at this time does appear to be a little confusing. we had heard reports that there was no distress call made from the aircraft. the reports that a distress signal had been picked up about two hours after the aircraft s disappeared, this was the best analysis of that, that this was an emergency transmitter locator as the aircraft hit the water potentially, that that was being picked up. now we're hearing this information ask perhaps wrong, that that didn't happen. that the army in egypt is saying they haven't released this information or said this. so this appears to be the -- appears to be, and i stress this at this time, the sort of not confusion but the sort of conflicting pieces of information that become available in the immediate after
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hours of a situation like this, where authorities are grappling to try to nail down the pieces of information that they have. it appears at the moment, and i stress appears, that egyptian authorities may be walking back from that earlier statement that there was some kind of distress signal picked up, and the best information we could summize from the information available is the distress signal was several hours after the aircraft went down. so where does the investigation stand at the moment? looking at who was in contact physically with the aircraft, while it was on the ground in cairo before it left to go to paris, who was it in contact on the ground in paris and who were all the passengers on board? one thing that's significant as we analyze the situation, it's potentially what may have happened on board the aircraft. we don't know. we absolutely won't know for a long time. but there were three egyptian
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security officials on board that aircraft as part of the crew. >> and just to be clear for our viewers, it's 8:47 where nik is, 9:47 in the morning in paris and cairo. and the latest from egyptian officials is they deny reports that a distress signal wass received from the play. so we're efforting to gather more information for you. the navy and egyptian air force are said to be at the last known location of the plane in the mediterranean. stay with cnn as we continue to cover this breaking story.
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this is cnn breaking news. >> and we want to update you on our breaking news. an urgent search under way for egypt air flight 804. it disappeared early thursday as it traveled from paris to cairo with 66 souls on board. officials tell reuters they believe the plane probably
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crashed into the mediterranean. >> now, egypt air says some sort of distress signal was sent from the vicinity where the plane disappeared but it could have come from another vessel. the airbus a-320 was flying at 37,000 feet, about 280 kilometers from the egyptian coast when contact ended. egypt's prime minister said there is no confirmed information on the status of the plane right now. >> and our journalist joins us right now from athens. now we know that greek authorities, they were the last ones to have any communication with this egyptian air flight 804 as it moved from greek air space into egyptian air space. what more are we learning about that and also the role that greece is playing in the search and rescue effort under way? >> reporter: you're absolutely right. the last confirmed information that we have in terms of who were the last to get in touch with the plane pilot seemed to
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be the dpregreek authorities. we have confirmed that greek air traffic controllers spoke to the pilot for just one minute before the aircraft exited greek air space. the pilot at the time does not seem to have mentioned any problems, and we believe this is just standard procedure when a plan passes from one country to another. so nothing unusual there. it seems that two minutes later, after the plane exited greek air space and entered egypt's air space, the greek radar lost touch with the plane and the greek civil aviation authority has told us they contacted egypt as a result. they decided it was worth contacting the egyptian civil aviation authority as a result of that, after just losing contact with a plane. so this is so far the last
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confirmed communication that we know of, and it may well be the last. there are some conflicting reports about a possible distress signal later, considerably later than that. but that remains to be confirmed. so basically what we don't know is what happened after this plane entered egyptian air space. at the moment, greece is working very closely with egypt. it's taking part in a big search and rescue operation that is under way in the mediterranean. greece has sent military aircraft scanning the area. it has sent an early warning aircraft, as well. and they have helicopters standing by on the greek island waiting for more information in order to take part in a potential rescue or recovery operation, if there is indeed one. >> indeed. and of course, still a lot of confusion relating to that distress signal. elinda, many thanks to you. we'll take a short break here
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and have more of our breaking news coverage of the missing air flight 804. back in just a moment. . .
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this is cnn breaking news. >> just recapping the breaking news. there is an intense search right now in the mediterranean for missing egyptair flight 804. it went missing with 66 people on board. officials say it probably crashed at sea.
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>> it was flying 280 kilometers when it lost contact. one of the troubling details, it was flying at 37,000 feet. generally considered safe for any flight. >> we want to thank you for watching cnn. i'm rosemary church. >> and i'm errol barnett. "early start" begins now. >> breaking news this morning. egyptair flight 804 from paris to cairo vanishes. the search for the plane and 66 people on board is happening right now. cnn is tracking the latest. good morning. welcome to "early start." i'm boris sanchez. >> i'm christine romans. it is 4:00 a.m. in the east. welcome to the viewers in the u.s. and around the world. our breaking news this morning. an egyptian passenger jet disappeared over the eastern

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