*This does not make a hell of a lot of sense to me.*
RIO DE JANEIRO, June 1 (UPI) — A passenger plane en route to Paris from Rio de Janeiro over the Atlantic Monday reported a technical difficulty in the aircraft before disappearing.
The crew of Air France jetliner reported a short-circuit in the plane’s electrical equipment before vanishing over the ocean, Brazil’s Agencia Estado news agency reported Monday.
French officials expressed “real pessimism” Monday about finding an Air France jetliner.
Airport authorities in Paris said the Airbus A330-200 jet with 228 people on board dropped off radar screens somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean shortly after taking off from Rio de Janeiro for Paris.
“We can fear the worst,” said French Transportation Minister Jean-Louis Borloo, adding there was “real pessimism at this hour,” The Daily Telegraph reported.
The airline said the plane sent automatic messages reporting electrical problems in stormy weather before it lost contact, CNN reported.
“I can say without doubt that this is a catastrophe,” Air France Chief Executive Officer Pierre-Henri Gourgeon said during a news conference, adding “the entire Air France company and its staff are very moved and affected by this.”
Other French officials said they had “no hope” for Air France Flight 447, its 216 passengers and 12 crew members.
The Brazilian air force undertook a search-and-rescue operation for the aircraft near the Brazilian island of Fernando de Noronha, CNN reported.
Families of passengers gathered at a crisis center established at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle International Airport, the plane’s destination.
The aircraft was about 190 miles northeast of the Brazilian coastal city of Natal when contact was lost, three hours and 20 minutes after taking off from Rio de Janeiro, officials said.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office said he was informed of the situation and ordered relevant government agencies to hunt “for any sign of the plane.”