''It's too early to definitively say what may have caused this disaster,'' says White House Spokesman Josh Earnest, adding that U.S. officials ''have been in touch with their counterparts in France and Egypt to offer assistance.'' Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) White House Spokesman Josh Earnest offered his condolences to the families of victims on EgyptAir flight 804 which disappeared from radar over the Mediterranean south of Greece on Thursday (May 19). "U.S. National Security and aviation experts have been in touch with their counterparts in France and Egypt to offer assistance," said Earnest. Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said it was too early to rule out any explanation, including an attack like the one blamed for bringing down a Russian airliner over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula last year. The country's aviation minister said a terrorist attack was more likely than a technical failure. But Earnest said it was too early for speculation. "It's too early to definitively say what may have caused this disaster. The investigation is underway. And investigators will consider all of the potential factors that could have contributed to the crash," he said. Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said the Airbus had first swerved 90 degrees to the left, then spun through 360 degrees to the right. After plunging from 37,000 feet to 15,000, it vanished from Greek radar screens. According to Greece's civil aviation chief, calls from Greek air traffic controllers to flight MS804 went unanswered just before it left Greek airspace, and it disappeared from radar screens soon afterwards. There was no official indication of a possible cause, whether technical failure or sabotage by ultra-hardline Islamists who have targeted airports, airliners and tourist sites in Europe, Egypt, Tunisia and other Middle Eastern countries over the past few years. The aircraft was carrying 56 passengers - with one child and two infants among them - and 10 crew, EgyptAir said. They included 30 Egyptian and 15 French nationals, along with citizens of 10 other countries.