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Debris of EgyptAir Plane Found 290 Km From Alexandria, Says Egyptian Military

The route of EgyptAir flight MS804. Credit: Flightradar24.com

The route of EgyptAir flight MS804. Credit: Flightradar24.com

The Egyptian military has said it has found parts of debris from the missing EgyptAir plane 290 kilometers north of the Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria, according to Reuters. Some of the passengers’ belongings have also been found and the Egyptian navy is sweeping the area in search for the plane’s black box.

The plane went missing during a flight from Paris to Cairo on Thursday morning, having disappeared from radar over the Mediterranean Sea in a crash that Egypt said may have been caused by a terrorist attack, reports Reuters. Sixty-six people were on board.

In a televised press conference after the disappearance, French President François Hollande confirmed the plane crashed and said no cause could be ruled out. Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail told reporters that a terrorist attack remained a possibility.

On Thursday evening, reports suggested that some debris, likely from the missing EgyptAir aircraft, had been found south of the Greek island of Karpathos. However, a top Greek official disputed the claim and said the wreckage found was not from the airliner.

What we know:

Flight MS804:  The flight took off from the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport at 11.09 pm on Wednesday local time and was scheduled to land in Cairo at 3.15 am on Thursday, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. Flight MS804 was just under four hours into its journey when it disappeared. Ahmed Adel, vice chairman of EgyptAir, had earlier told CNN there were “no recorded snags coming out of Cairo” and nothing was reported before the plane left Paris.

The airline announced the disappearance of flight MS804 on social media, saying it had “disappeared from radar”.

Number of people on board: Fifty-six passengers, including two infants, and 10 crew members, were onboard the flight. The airline has said there were 30 Egyptian nationals, 15 French nationals, two Iraqis, and one national each from the UK, Belgium, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Chad, Portugal, Algeria and Canada were on board flight MS804.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi heads the National Security Council to discuss the disappearance of an EgyptAir plane. Credit: The Egyptian Presidency/Handout via Reuters

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi heads the National Security Council to discuss the disappearance of an EgyptAir plane. Credit: The Egyptian Presidency/Handout via Reuters

The pilots: EgyptAir has said the aircraft pilot has 6275 of flying hours, including 2101 flying hours on Airbus 320, while the co-pilot has 2766 flying hours.

The aircraft: Flight MS804 is an Airbus 320 and was manufactured in 2003.

Last known position: According to flightradar24.com, the last known position of flight MS804 was above the Mediterranean Sea, reports Reuters. EgyptAir has confirmed the plane disappeared about 10 miles (16km) into Egyptian air space, reported the BBC.

Disappearance: EgyptAir said the flight lost contact with radar at 2.45 am Cairo time, just after entering Egyptian airspace. The plane was at 37,000 feet when it disappeared. 

Greece’s Defence Ministry has said the flight MS804 plunged to 15,000 feet and spun sharply before vanishing from radar. Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said the aircraft “made swerves and a descent. 90 degrees left & then 360 degrees to the right,” before disappearing.

Weather conditions: No adverse weather conditions were reported off the coast of Egypt at the time of disappearance of flight MS804. CNN‘s meteorologist Michael Guy had said weather conditions were clear and calm when the plane crossed over the Mediterranean.

Rescue efforts: Egyptian, French and Greek ships were conducting search and rescue operations in the area, CNN reported. Many international governments are also assisting in the search for the airplane.

Distress signal: Contradictory reports emerged over whether the plane sent a distress signal. EgyptAir had earlier said a ‘distress message’ had been sent from flight at 4.26 am local time, nearly two hours after the plane disappeared from radar. In water crashes, an underwater locator beacon attached to the aircraft’s flight recorders starts to emit a signal or ping. This helps the search and rescue teams locate the boxes, and the location of the crash.

However, Egypt’s military later said no distress signals were received.

Meanwhile, Greek airport officials said the flight crashed off the Greek island of Karpathos in Egyptian airspace.

Reasons for crash/disappearance: Hollande, Ismail said French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said no theory could be ruled out on the cause for the disappearance of flight MS804.

According to an AFP report, experts have said a terrorist attack is the most likely cause of the disappearance of flight MS804 while ruling out other causes like technical and mechanical malfunctions, and being shot from the ground.

No sign of blast: A US review of satellite images did not produce signs of an explosion on board, Reuters reported, quoting officials from multiple US agencies.

The unnamed sources said that the US had not ruled out any possible causes for the crash, including a deliberate act by the pilot or crew.

Wreckage: The Egyptian military has said parts of the debris from the plane have been found 290 kms north of  Alexandria.Some of the passengers’ belongings have also been found. The search is on for the plane’s black box.

What we don’t know:

Cause: Flight MS804 is yet to be traced and there remains mystery over the cause for its disappearance. Weather conditions off the Egyptian coast were clear and this is unlikely to have been a cause. French and Egyptian officials have said no cause or theory can be ruled out. Experts believe a terrorist attack caused flight MS804 to crash.

Responsibility: Experts and officials believe a terrorist attack caused flight MS804 to crash, but no terror group has claimed responsibility for it yet.

For more, also follow:

The BBC‘s live blog.

CNN‘s coverage, including the interview with EgyptAir’s Vice Chairman Capt. Ahmed Adel.

The Guardian‘s live updates.

Twitter conversations here.

  • ashok759

    Almost certainly an explosive planted on board. RIP.