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Debris found from EgyptAir plane

Film director Osman Abu Laban lost four relatives in the disaster
Film director Osman Abu Laban lost four relatives in the disaster
Film director Osman Abu Laban lost four relatives in the disaster
Film director Osman Abu Laban lost four relatives in the disaster

Debris and body parts have been found in the Mediterranean Sea by teams searching for a missing EgyptAir plane, Greek and Egyptian officials say.

Flight MS804 was en route from Paris to Cairo with 66 passengers and crew when it vanished early on Thursday.

Items including seats and luggage has also been retrieved by Egyptian search crews.

The debris was discovered about 290km (180 miles) north of Alexandria, the Egyptian military said.

European Space Agency satellites spotted an oil slick in the area where the flight had vanished but the organisation said there was no guarantee it was from the missing plane.

The search is now focused on finding the plane’s flight recorders, the Associated Press news agency reports.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has expressed his “utmost sadness and regret” at the crash.

Greek, Egyptian, French and UK military units have been taking part in a search operation near Greece’s Karpathos island.

Greece said radar showed the Airbus A320 had made two sharp turns and dropped more than 25,000ft (7,620m) before plunging into the sea.


The focus of the investigation

Map showing area of Mediterranean where search for MS804 debris is focused

Egypt says the plane was more likely to have been brought down by a terrorist act than a technical fault.

However, there has been “absolutely no indication” so far as to why the plane came down, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Friday morning.

Three investigators from the French air accident investigation bureau, along with a technical adviser from Airbus, have joined the Egyptian inquiry.

The BBC has learned the plane that disappeared was forced to make an emergency landing in 2013 after the pilot noticed the engine overheating, but an official report said defect was repaired.

In France, the focus is on whether a possible breach of security happened at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.

After last November’s Paris attacks, some airport staff had their security clearance revoked over fears of links to Islamic extremists.

Eric Moutet, a lawyer for some of those employees, told the BBC that there had been attempts by Islamists to recruit airport staff.

“That is clear,” he said. “There are people who are being radicalised in some of the trade unions, etc. The authorities have their work cut out with this problem.”

In October, an Airbus A321 operated by Russia’s Metrojet blew up over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, with all 224 people on board killed.

Sinai Province, a local affiliate of the Islamic State jihadist group, said it had smuggled a bomb on board.


What do we know about what happened?

map

Flight MS804 left Paris at 23:09 local time on Wednesday (21:09 GMT) and was scheduled to arrive in the Egyptian capital soon after 03:15 local time (01:15 GMT) on Thursday.

On the plane were 56 passengers, seven crew members and three security personnel.

Greek aviation officials say air traffic controllers spoke to the pilot when he entered Greek airspace and everything appeared normal.

They tried to contact him again at 02:27 Cairo time, as the plane was set to enter Egyptian airspace, but “despite repeated calls, the aircraft did not respond”. Two minutes later it vanished from radar.

Anomalies, rumours, conspiracies: By Richard Westcott, BBC transport correspondent

Flight MS804's possibly final movements

I have reported on many air accidents and there is a pattern. The early days are filled with anomalies, rumours and conspiracy theories.

Take the claim from the Greek government that the plane “swerved” and dropped height dramatically. Does that suggest a fight in the cockpit?

An air accident expert told me it could mean anything.

It could indicate that the pilots were struggling with a broken plane, although it does not explain how it broke.

Was it a bomb, or a mechanical catastrophe? It could also be that the radar simply picked up large parts of an aircraft that had already split up in mid-air.

A security expert also told me that if it was a terrorist group, they would not necessarily have claimed it by now.


Who were the victims?

EgyptAir flight MS804

Passengers’ nationalities

66

people on board – 56 passengers, seven crew members and three security personnel

  • 30 Egyptians
  • 15 French citizens
  • 2 Iraqis
  • 1 from Britain, Canada, Belgium, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Sudan, Chad and Portugal
PA
Richard Osman, who died on board flight MS804Richard Osman was a father of two and of Egyptian origin       Photo: ATHENA PICTURE AGENCY

The names of some of those who were on board have emerged, but most have not been identified publicly.

Those on board included:

  • Richard Osman, a 40-year-old geologist and father-of-two from South Wales;
  • Canadian national Marwa Hamdy, a mother-of-three and an executive with IBM originally from Saskatchewan, but who had relocated to Cairo;
  • Pascal Hess, a photographer from Normandy, France, who had lost his passport last week – only for it to be found in the street, allowing him to catch the flight;
  • An unnamed couple in their 40s from Angers in north-west France, as well as their two children;
  • Ahmed Helal, the Egyptian-born manager of a Procter and Gamble plant in Amiens, northern France

 

Source: BBC

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