Air France Flight Disappears

Air France flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airpor is suspected of having crashed after disappearing from radar while flying over the Atlantic Ocean earlier today. The aircraft, an Airbus 330-200 carrying 216 passengers and 12 crewmembers, left Rio de Janeiro at 7 p.m. local time (10 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time) on Sunday and went off the radar at 6 a.m. GMT today. The flight was scheduled to land in Paris at 11:10 a.m. local time (9:10 a.m. GMT).

According to reports, the aircraft had automatically issued a signal indicating an electrical circuit malfunction after it passed into a storm four hours into the flight; however, no manual emergency transmission was made, leading to speculation that the aircraft was forced to ditch so quickly that there was no time for the call. Reports indicate that the aircraft may have been hit by lightning.

Brazil's air force has already begun a search and rescue mission, beginning over Fernando de Noronha Island, located approximately 215 miles off of Brazil's northeastern coast. Given the large area that will have to be searched, it is probable that it will be some time before anything definitive is known about what occurred with the flight.

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