Egyptian authorities find luggage, body parts
Egyptian authorities have found luggage, a seat and a body part during the search for an EgyptAir jet which plunged into the Mediterranean, Greece’s defence minister says.
‘A short while ago we were briefed by the Egyptian authorities … on the discovery of a body part, a seat and baggage just south of where the aircraft signal was lost,’ Defence Minister Panos Kammenos told reporters in Athens on Friday.
The flight with 66 people on board and travelling from Paris to Cairo vanished minutes after leaving Greek for Egyptian airspace early on Thursday morning.
Kammenos said Greece could not speculate on the reasons the aircraft crashed.
He reiterated that Greek radars picked up sharp swings in its trajectory as it plunged from a cruising altitude to 15,000 feet, then vanishing from radars.
Earlier the Egyptian army said on its official Facebook page wreckage from the missing plane had been found 290km north of the Mediterranean Sea city of Alexandria.
‘The Egyptian aircraft and ships also found (Friday) morning personal items of some passengers of the plane,’ the army said in the statement.
Three French aviation accident investigators and an Airbus technical expert have arrived in Cairo on Friday to join the Egypt-led probe.
The reasons for the disappearance are currently unknown.
Egyptian and Russian officials have said it may have been brought down by terrorists.
Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said the plane spun all the way around and suddenly lost altitude just before vanishing from radar screens around 2.45am Cairo time on Thursday.
He said it made a 90-degree left turn, then a full 360-degree turn to the right, plummeting from 38,000 to 15,000 feet.
It disappeared at about 10,000 feet, he said. There were no reports of stormy weather at the time.
Egyptian and Greek authorities in ships and planes have searched the suspected crash area throughout the day for traces of the airliner or its victims, with more help on the way from the US, Britain and France.
Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi cautioned that the disaster was still under investigation but said the possibility it was a terror attack ‘is higher than the possibility of having a technical failure.’
Alexander Bortnikov, chief of Russia’s top domestic security agency, went further, saying: ‘In all likelihood it was a terror attack.’
There was no immediate claim from militants that they had downed the plane.
A US review of satellite imagery so far has not produced any signs of an explosion aboard the EgyptAir flight that crashed en route from Paris to Cairo, officials from multiple US agencies have told Reuters.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the conclusion was the result of a preliminary examination of imagery on Thursday and cautioned against media reports suggesting the United States believed a bomb was responsible for the crash.
The United States has not ruled out any possible causes for the crash, including mechanical failure, terrorism or a deliberate act by the pilot or crew, they said.
If it was terrorism, it would be the second deadly attack involving Egypt’s aviation industry in seven months.
Last October, a Russian passenger plane that took off from an Egyptian Red Sea resort crashed in the Sinai, killing all 224 people aboard. Russia said it was brought down by a bomb, and a local branch of the Islamic State claimed responsibility.