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EgyptAir Flight Crash: Bodies Being Found by Mid-Day Friday

Image: EgyptAir Flight Crash: Bodies Being Found by Mid-Day Friday

The Egyptian military said it has found remains and debris from missing flight. (AP)

Friday, 20 May 2016 12:36 PM

Passenger remains, personal belongings and other debris from an EgyptAir jet were found floating in the sea by mid-day Friday, about 180 miles north of the port city of Alexandria, confirming that the flight with 66 people on board had plunged into the Mediterranean, reported Reuters.

The Egyptian military said it had found the remains and debris and was searching for the plane's black box flight recorders.

Egypt's President Adbel Fattah al-Sisi offered condolences for those on board, amounting to Cairo's official acknowledgement of their deaths.

The defense minister of Greece, which has also been scouring the Mediterranean, said Egyptian authorities had found a body part, luggage and a seat in the sea just south of where the signal from the plane was lost.

Although suspicion pointed to Islamist militants who blew up another airliner over Egypt just seven months ago, no group had claimed responsibility more than 24 hours after the disappearance of flight MS804, an Airbus A320 flying from Paris to Cairo.

Three French investigators and a technical expert from Airbus arrived in Cairo early on Friday to help investigate the fate of the missing plane, airport sources said.

Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said on Thursday that it was too early to rule out any explanation for the disaster. The country's aviation minister said a terrorist attack was more likely than a technical failure.

While there was no official explanation of the cause of the crash, suspicion fell on the militants who have been fighting against Egypt's government since Sisi toppled an elected Islamist leader in 2013. In October, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for blowing up a Russian jetliner that exploded after taking off from an Egyptian tourist resort. Russian investigators blamed a bomb smuggled on board.

Last year's crash devastated Egypt's tourist industry, one of the main sources of foreign exchange for a country of 80 million people, and another similar attack would crush hopes of it recovering.

While most governments were cautious about jumping to conclusions, U.S. Republican candidate for president, Donald Trump, tweeted swiftly after the plane's disappearance: "Looks like yet another terrorist attack. Airplane departed from Paris. When will we get tough, smart and vigilant?"

Later in the day, his likely Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, also said it appeared to be an act of terrorism, although she said an investigation would have to determine the details.

Officials from a number of U.S. agencies told Reuters that a U.S. review of satellite imagery so far had not produced any signs of an explosion. They said the United States had not ruled out any possible causes for the crash, including mechanical failure, terrorism or a deliberate act by the pilot or crew.

Amid uncertainty about what brought down the plane, Los Angeles International Airport became the first major U.S. air transportation hub to say it was stepping up security measures.

The plane vanished just as it was exiting air space controlled by Greece for air space controlled by Egypt. Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said the Airbus swerved radically and plunged from 37,000 feet to 15,000 before vanishing from Greek radar screens.

According to Greece's civil aviation chief, calls from Greek air traffic controllers to MS804 went unanswered just before it left Greek airspace, and it disappeared from radar screens soon afterwards.

There was no official indication of a possible cause, whether technical failure, human error or sabotage.

The aircraft was carrying 56 passengers, including one child and two infants, and 10 crew, EgyptAir said. They included 30 Egyptian and 15 French nationals, along with citizens of 10 other countries. A320s normally seat 150 people. The plane had made scheduled flights to Tunisia and Eritrea on Wednesday before arriving in Paris from Cairo.

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Passenger remains, personal belongings and other debris from an EgyptAir jet were found floating in the sea by mid-day Friday, about 180 miles north of the port city of Alexandria, confirming that the flight with 66 people on board had plunged into the Mediterranean.
egyptair, flight, crash, bodies, found
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2016-36-20
Friday, 20 May 2016 12:36 PM
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