EgyptAir plane wreckage found in Mediterranean after 66 people feared dead

May 20, 2016 | By | Reply More

May 20, – Search teams spotted personal belongings of passengers and parts of the Airbus A320 about 290 kilometres (180 miles) north of Egypt’s coastal city of Alexandria, the army said.

Air flight crashesThe Egyptian military found wreckage including seats and luggage Friday from the EgyptAir plane that crashed in the Mediterranean, as investigators tried to unravel the mystery of why it swerved and plummeted into the sea.

The country’s aviation minister has said a “terrorist attack” was a more likely cause than technical failure for the plane’s disappearance on a flight from Paris to Cairo with 66 people on board.

But French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said there was “absolutely no indication” of why the plane came down.

“We’re looking at all possibilities, but none is being favoured over the others,” he said.

The tragedy raised fears of a repeat of the bombing of a Russian passenger jet by the Islamic State jihadist group over Egypt last October that killed all 224 people on board.

In Cairo, French and Airbus investigators were to meet their Egyptian counterparts to lay the groundwork for their probe.

– Satellite spots oil slick –

Relatives of some of the passengers and crew met EgyptAir officials and later gathered at a hotel near Cairo airport to exchange information.

“They haven’t died yet. No one knows. We’re asking for God’s mercy,” said a woman in her 50s whose daughter had been on board.

The plane disappeared between the Greek island of Karpathos and the Egyptian coast in the early hours of Thursday, without its crew sending a distress signal.

It had turned sharply twice in Egyptian airspace before plunging 22,000 feet (6,700 metres) and vanishing from radar screens, said Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos.

A multi-national operation involving aircraft and ships has been launched to find the plane.

On Friday Kammenos said Egypt had told Greece that search teams had found “a body part, two seats and one or more items of luggage” in waters north of Alexandria.

Other search aircraft had “allegedly reported more findings in another area, but currently we have no official confirmation that they belong to the plane in question.”

Later the European Space Agency said one of its satellites had on Thursday spotted an oil slick about 40 kilometres southeast of the plane’s last known location.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had demanded an “intensified search” after the airline retracted a statement that wreckage had been found.

French President Francois Hollande said on Thursday that it was clear the plane had crashed, and authorities in both Paris and Cairo opened investigations.

Fifteen French citizens, a Briton and at least one Canadian were among 26 foreigners on the plane.

Both France and Egypt have come under attack by IS jihadists in the past year, and Hollande promised a comprehensive investigation.

IS has been waging a deadly insurgency against Egyptian security forces.

In October, an Airbus A321 operated by Russia’s Metrojet broke up over the Sinai desert after taking off from the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, killing all on board in an attack that IS claimed.

In the United States, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said it was “too early to definitively say what may have caused this disaster”.

The disaster also entered the US presidential election campaign, where national security is a prominent issue.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said it appeared to be “yet another terrorist attack,” adding “When will we get tough, smart and vigilant?”

His likely Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton said it “does appear that it was an act of terrorism” and “once again shines a very bright light on the threats that we face from organised terror groups”.

– Pilot’s last communication –

Greek civil aviation chief Constantinos Litzerakos said the pilot had mentioned no problem in his last communication before the plane disappeared, and the flight had not deviated from its course.

“The flight controllers contacted the pilot at a height of 37,000 feet (near Athens)… he did not mention a problem,” he said.

Neither the Greek coastguard nor the navy could confirm reports a passing ship had seen “a ball of fire in the sky”.

Litzerakos said that if there had been an explosion, any debris would have been scattered across a wide area.

The passengers also included two Iraqis and one citizen from each of Algeria, Belgium, Chad, Portugal, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, as well as 30 Egyptians, the airline said. They included a boy and two babies.

Seven crew members and three security personnel were also on board.

EgyptAir said the plane had been manufactured in 2003. Airbus said it had clocked up 48,000 flight hours.

EgyptAir hit the headlines in March when a flight from Alexandria to Cairo was hijacked and forced to divert to Cyprus, where the hijacker, who was described as “unstable”, demanded to see his ex-wife.

In October, foreign governments issued travel warnings for Egypt and demanded a review of security at its airports after IS said it downed the Russian airliner with a bomb concealed in a soda can that had been smuggled into the hold.

Press journalist for HRO media – Khizer Hayat reports.

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Category: Arab uprising

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