Weather suspected in Air France A330 loss

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Weather conditions have emerged as a leading suspect in the assumed loss of an Air France Airbus A330-200 that disappeared off the coast of Brazil last night.

The General Electric CF6-powered twinjet, F-GZCP, went missing about 3.5hrs after its 19:03 departure from Rio de Janeiro for Paris as flight 447 with 216 passengers and 12 crew on board.

In a statement Air France says: "The aircraft crossed a stormy zone with strong turbulence at 02:00 (UTC), or 04:00 in Paris. An automatic message was received at 02:14 indicating an electrical circuit failure in a remote area of the Brazilian coast."

Search and rescue efforts have been underway all day but no trace of the aircraft has been found and no communications were received from the crew.

The aircraft was delivered in April 2005 and had recorded 18,870 flight hours, says Airbus. It last underwent maintenance on 16 April.