NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The top two presidential candidates are speaking out about the EgyptAir jetliner crash. Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said the crash “looks like yet another terrorist attack” as Egyptian and Russian officials believe that that EgyptAir Flight 804 may have been brought down by terrorists early Thursday. “Looks like yet…
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The top two presidential candidates are speaking out about the EgyptAir jetliner crash.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said the crash “looks like yet another terrorist attack” as Egyptian and Russian officials believe that that EgyptAir Flight 804 may have been brought down by terrorists early Thursday.
“Looks like yet another terrorist attack. Airplane departed from Paris. When will we get tough, smart and vigilant? Great hate and sickness,” Trump tweeted.
The Airbus A320 with 56 passengers and 10 crew members, went down about halfway between the Greek island of Crete and Egypt’s coastline after takeoff from Charles de Gaulle Airport, authorities said. The plane swerved wildly in flight and crashed in the Mediterranean Sea.
In an interview with CNN, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton said that crash “shines a very bright light on the threat that we face from organized terror groups.”
“It reinforces the need for American leadership – the kind of hard, steady leadership that only America can provide,” the former secretary of state said.
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 from 38,000 to 15,000 feet. It disappeared at about 10,000 feet, he said.
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.”
The Egyptian military said it did not receive a distress call, and Egypt’s state-run daily Al-Ahram quoted an unidentified airport official as saying the pilot did not send one. The absence of a distress call suggests that whatever sent the aircraft plummeting into the sea was sudden and brief.
The plane’s erratic course raised a number of possibilities, including a catastrophic mechanical or structural failure, a bombing, or a struggle over the controls with a hijacker in the cockpit.
Egyptian security officials said they were running background checks on the passengers to see if any had links to extremists.
If it was terrorism, it was the second deadly attack involving Egypt’s aviation industry in seven months.
Last October, a Russian passenger plane that took off from an Egyptian Red Sea resort crashed in the Sinai, killing all 224 people aboard. Russia said it was brought down by a bomb, and a local branch of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria claimed responsibility.