Pleasanton Woman Remembers Friend Lost in EgyptAir Crash | NBC Bay Area
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Pleasanton Woman Remembers Friend Lost in EgyptAir Crash

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    News of the EgyptAir plane crash hit home for many in the Bay Area's Egyptian community, particularly one Pleasanton woman who said she knew one of the victims well. Laura Malpert reports. (Published Thursday, May 19, 2016)

    News of the EgyptAir plane crash hit home for many in the Bay Area's Egyptian community, particularly one Pleasanton woman who said she knew one of the victims well.

    Within minutes of the reports of Flight 804's disappearance on Wednesday, Hoda Rashad heard from people across the world. Egyptian officials said Thursday the plane traveling from Paris to Cairo and carrying 66 people likely was downed by an explosion.

    Rashad said she went into a panic when she started seeing texts from family and friends about the crash.

    "You start to wonder if you know anyone on the plane," she said Thursday. "The Paris-Cairo route is a very popular route this time of year."

    Pleasanton Woman Remembers Friend Lost in EgyptAir Crash

    [BAY] Pleasanton Woman Remembers Friend Lost in EgyptAir Crash
    News of the EgyptAir plane crash hit home for many in the Bay Area's Egyptian community, particularly one Pleasanton woman who said she knew one of the victims well. Pete Suratos reports.
    (Published Thursday, May 19, 2016)

    It turns out Rashad was friends with 36-year-old Ghassan Abulaban when they were students at the American University in Cairo. Abulaban was believed to be on the plane with his wife, mother and father.

    On Thursday, EgyptAir retracted an announcement that debris from the flight was found during search operations in the Mediterranean near the Greek island of Karpathos. A senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with U.S. capabilities in the region told NBC News the cause of the crash remains unclear, but infrared and multispectral imagers indicate strongly there was an explosion on the flight.

    In San Jose, passengers traveling internationally Thursday night had mixed reactions in the wake of the crash.

    "It's scary," said Ameila Torres as she arrived at Mineta San Jose International Airport from Mexico. "It was my thought that I was scared to even go."

    Another unidentified passenger arriving from Canada said they believe air travel is still safer than a car, and they weren't worried at all.

    Some airports such as Los Angeles International responded to the crash by increasing security. But Mineta San Jose did not, saying the Department of Homeland Security has not directed it to do so.

    Rashad wasn't about to speculate about the crash herself, but she was deeply saddened by the loss of her friend.

    "No matter how you look at it is going to be bad, and it's a tragedy, and it's scary," she said.

    Abulaban and his wife leave behind two daughters - a 4-year-old and an infant.

    "My heart goes out to them. I don't know what to say," Rashad said. "There's nothing that makes up for this."

    Rashad said Abulaban owned a textile business in Cairo and was very well-liked. His extended family already had begun making arrangements with friends and family to honor those they lost.

    While Rashad wasn't sure what would happen to Abulaban's daughters, she said Egyptian families usually come together to take care of their own.

    NBC News contributed to this report.

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