PARIS, June 2, 2009 (AFP) - French newspapers were aghast at what still seemed a mystery early Tuesday: the disappearance of Air France flight 447 over the Atlantic with 228 people on board.
"Did lightning cause the loss of the Rio-Paris flight, although numerous aircraft are struck each year without damage," asked the Liberation in its article under the headline "The Rio-Paris Mystery".
Air France flight AF 447 disappeared early Monday four hours into its 11-hour flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris after the Airbus A330 encountered severe turbulence over the Atlantic and reported technical failures.
"The Mystery of Flight AF 447" topped both Le Figaro and Le Parisien/Aujour'hui en France, the latter over a picture of a parent in tears.
Air France officials have said the aircraft went through an area of severe turbulence and then sent a series of automatic messages of technical failures.
Brazilian, French and Spanish aircraft have launched a search for the aircraft but found no trace of it on Monday, which L'Union/L'Ardennais found incredible.
"In this era when satellites can identify people on the streets ... such uncertainty raises a thousand questions," wrote the Reims-based papers.
At least one newspaper raised the possibility of something besides weather being responsible for the loss of the plane.
"It's just the working hypothesis favored by the authorities and the company, without commenting on the other: an attack," wrote the Brittany-based Le Telegramme, arguing further information was needed to be certain what caused the plane to go down.
French Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo, whose portfolio includes transport, said on Monday that hijacking had been ruled out.