Missing Air France jet carrying 228 possibly hit by lightning - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Missing Air France jet carrying 228 possibly hit by lightning

SAO PAULO, Brazil - A missing Air France jet carrying 228 people from Rio de Janeiro to Paris ran into lightning and strong thunderstorms over the Atlantic Ocean, officials said Monday. Brazil began a search mission off its northeastern coast.

Chief Air France spokesman Francois Brousse said it is possible the plane was hit by lightning.

Air France Flight 447, an Airbus A330, left Rio on Sunday at 7 p.m. local time, 6 p.m. EDT, with 216 passengers and 12 crew members on board, company spokeswoman Brigitte Barrand.

About four hours later, the plane sent an automatic signal indicating electrical problems while going through strong turbulence, Air France said.

The plane "crossed through a thunderous zone with strong turbulence." An automatic message was received fourteen minutes later "signaling electrical circuit malfunction."

Brazil's air force did not know where the aircraft disappeared, but a spokesman said it was searching near the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha because if an accident had happened in Brazilian waters, it would be in that area.

The spokesman said there was no immediate indication of what might have happened to the plane. He spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with department policy.

Two Brazilian Air Force planes were searching the waters about 300 kilometers northeast of the coastal city of Natal near the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, a Brazilian air force spokesman said, speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with air force policy.

The region is about 1,500 miles northeast of Rio.

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