Missing French Plane Hit Thunderstorms
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
And I'm Melissa Block. There is still no sign of Air France Flight 447. The flight from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Paris disappeared early this morning after hitting stormy weather. Two-hundred-twenty-eight people were onboard. Eleanor Beardsley has the latest from Paris.
ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: Unidentified Man: (unintelligible)
BEARDSLEY: At Charles de Gaulle Airport, those who had shown up to meet passengers were quickly whisked into a crisis center set up by Air France and the French government. Eventually, some details began to emerge. Air France CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon said the plane began experiencing difficulties four hours into its 11-hour flight.
PIERRE: (Through translator) Around four in the morning Paris time, the plane entered a storm. About 15 minutes later, we received some automatic messages from the plane that the electrical system was failing.
BEARDSLEY: Gourgeon said that there was no mayday from the pilots, and nothing more was heard. His reference to electrical failure set off a fury of speculation in the media that the Airbus A330 had been struck by lightning. But aviation specialist Pierre Spallico(ph) says lighting is a common occurrence, and planes are well protected.
PIERRE SPALLICO: (unintelligible) on the aircraft, there is no doubt about that. It's next on (unintelligible). Of course something went wrong. But, usually, an accident results from the sequence of errors, and not just one reason. So this could be one of the reasons that it's far too early to say.
BEARDSLEY: At Charles de Gaulle Airport, a team of doctors and psychiatrists is helping the passengers' families. French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited them this afternoon, and then spoke to the press.
NICOLAS SARKOZY: (Through translator) Everyone can imagine what a mother must feel like losing her daughter, or a young man his fiancee. This is the worst catastrophe Air France has ever known, and we're mobilized to try to understand what happened here.
BEARDSLEY: For NPR News, I'm Eleanor Beardsley in Paris.
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