Lightning Strike' Fears For Missing Jet
2:09pm UK, Monday June 01, 2009
A packed Air France jet that disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean could have been struck by lightning, the firm has said.Flight AF 447 had 228 people on board and was flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris when all contact was lost.
"The plane might have been struck by lightning. It's a possibility," said Francois Brousse, head of communications at Air France.
The aircraft sent a message at 2.14am GMT reporting an electrical short-circuit, "crossed through a thunderous zone with strong turbulence", the airline said.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: "I do fear there may be some British citizens on board."
The plane would have run out of fuel by now, French minister Jean-Louis Borloo said.
"By now it would be beyond its kerosene reserves so unfortunately we must now envisage the most tragic scenario," he said.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has demanded the government and all authorities concerned do all they can to find the aircraft.The flight was scheduled to arrive in Paris at 9.15am GMT, according to the airport.
An Air France-KLM spokeswoman in Amsterdam said there had been no radio contact with the missing plane "for a while".
"A breakdown of the transponder can happen but this kind of breakdown is very rare," an airport source declared.
A UK airline safety expert said: "It's almost unthinkable for a western European airliner just to go missing like this."
The plane was an Airbus 330-200, according to the Paris airports authority website.
Air France said relatives of people travelling on board flight AF 447 were being taken care of in a special area of Charles de Gaulle airport.
The New York Times: “We have received no news from flight AF 447,” said an Air France spokeswoman in Paris, Brigitte Barrand. The plane was carrying 216 passengers and 12 crew members, she said. Other reports said three technical personnel were also aboard.
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