Missing EgyptAir Plane Dominates European TV News Coverage

Egyptair Planes GETTY H 2016
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French networks, the BBC and others focus on Flight MS804, the reasons for its disappearance and security at Paris' Charles de Gaule airport, while the airline takes to Facebook to criticize "misleading" reports.

Coverage of the missing EgyptAir Flight 804 dominated European TV news on Thursday.

In France, which has been shaken by the Charlie Hebdo shootings and Paris terrorist attacks, there was near-blanket coverage, with networks reporting that 15 of the passengers were French citizens. The airline later confirmed the 15 French passengers and said 30 were Egyptian, one British, two Iraqi, with other people on board from Canada, Belgium, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Sudan, Chad and Portugal.

French networks also reported of a crisis meeting held Thursday by president Francois Hollande and his team. The president’s office also tweeted a photo of the meeting.

"A crisis cell has been opened at our embassy in Cairo in Egypt," the French foreign minister also tweeted on Thursday. "We have begun to mobilize our resources and have made ourselves available to the Egyptian authorities — with military aircraft and vessels — to help in the search for this plane. But for the moment the priority is to support the families and we are at their disposition."

Much early French coverage focused on security at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport, from which Flight MS804 had left Wednesday night. Security at the airport has been increased further in recent months, including patrolling soldiers.

While there is no evidence as of 10 a.m local time that terrorists had targeted the plane, news reports in France and elsewhere cited that seven months ago ISIS had planted a bomb that brought down a Russian passenger jet and discussed the likelihood that terrorism was behind the EgyptAir plane's disappearance.

Around 10 a.m. French time, media reports in France and other parts of Europe cited Agence France Press as reporting that a Greek aviation source said the EgyptAir plane crashed into the sea off the southern Greek island of Karpathos.

In the U.K., the flight, which was heading from Paris to Cairo with 66 passengers and disappeared from radar after entering Egyptian airspace, was a lead topic on BBC, ITV and Sky News newscasts Thursday morning.

Russian state TV's flagship morning news show on Channel One covered the EgyptAir flight as its second news item after a story about an audacious overnight bank robbery in Moscow. Detailing the nationalities of the people onboard the Paris-Cairo flight, the network noted there were no Russians among them.

Fellow state-run Rossiya 1, Russia’s second-largest network, led its newscast with the plane story, spending about 4 minutes on it. The report was neutral and briefly mentioned last year’s plane crash over Egypt.

In October, a Russian charter flight packed with tourists returning home to St. Petersburg from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheik crashed over the Sinai desert with all 224 passengers and crew dying. A branch of Islamic terror group ISIS later claimed responsibility for bringing it down with a hidden explosive device.

Cable news networks in the U.S. had gone wall-to-wall on the missing EgyptAir plane.

Later in the European morning, EgyptAir posted a statement on Facebook that criticized "misleading" reports: “EgyptAir denies all misleading information published by news websites and on the social media channels regarding the reasons of the disappearance of EgyptAir Flight MS804 and the company confirms that the reason of disappearance hasn’t been yet confirmed.”

It added: “EgyptAir calls for media resources to be assured of the information they post or release and to abide by the official press releases issues by EgyptAir media center.” It was not immediately clear what "misleading information" the company was referring to.