Just in, update: It’s been reported that wreckage of EgyptAir flight MS804 has been found in the Mediterranean sea by the search crew engaged. BBC reported of the same just 2 hours ago, that debris of the plane, consisting of seats, personal belongings and passengers’ body parts has been spotted over the course of miles in the Mediterranean.
Massive efforts were being undertaken on the second day, to locate an EgyptAir plane with 60 passengers on board that made sudden swerves and plunged more than 25,000ft(7,620m) into the Mediterranean Sea. Flight MS804 left Paris at 23:09 local time on Wednesday (21:09 GMT) and was due to land at Cairo International Airport, in just another 20 minutes on Thursday when it disappeared.
Radar recordings show that the plane had flown from Asmara, in Eritrea, to Cairo, then on to Tunis, in Tunisia, before heading, via Cairo, to Paris. At 1.24 Cairo time the plane entered Athens airspace. Greek aviation officials say that they lost voice contact with the plane at 1.48 and that at 2.27 “despite repeated calls, the aircraft did not respond”. It vanished from the radar two minutes later at 2.29.
“The information we have gathered confirms, alas, that this plane has crashed, and it has disappeared,” President François Hollande said. “We have a duty to know everything about the cause and what has happened.”
Almost immediately, at 2.45 local time, Greek, French, Italian and American forces were deployed to aid in the search for the missing plane. A French Falcon surveillance jet and an American P-3Orion were initially employed as well as Greek helicopters, planes and a frigate. Other boats were also employed including at least 8 merchant ships.
A lot of debris, including life vests were found in the early searches but these turned out to be not from the EgyptAir disaster. Athanassios Binis, head of Greece’s Air Accident Investigation and Aviation Safety Board, told Greek state television ERT that “an assessment of the finds showed that they do not belong to an aircraft.”
The Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had ordered the country’s army, navy and air force to take all necessary measures to locate the wreckage. The French air accident investigation bureau also had sent three investigators, and a technical adviser from Airbus, to help find out what went wrong.
The plane was ferrying 56 passengers, seven crew members and three security personnel. Among the passengers were 30 Egyptians, 15 French, two Iraqis, and one person each from the UK, Belgium, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Chad, Portugal, Algeria and Canada.
Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos informed reporters: “The picture we have at the moment on the accident as it emerges from the Greek air force operations centre is that the aircraft was approximately 10-15 miles inside the Egyptian FIR [flight information region] and at an altitude of 37,000 feet.
“It turned 90 degrees left and then a 360-degree turn toward the right, dropping from 37,000 to 15,000 feet and then it was lost at about 10,000 feet.”
Speculation is on whether the plane crashed due to a technical fault or pilot error, a smuggled bomb or an inside act of sabotage. It veers more towards the terror angle, considering that an Airbus A321 plane was blown up by IS over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula as recently as in October by a bomb smuggled on board. In addition, an EgyptAir plane was hijacked and diverted to Cyprus in March.
Earlier CNN exclusively also reported that the flight data shows that there was smoke alerts on the airlines before it went down. The speculation, if found true, would rule out possibilities of any terror activity involved.
But in France, efforts are on to check whether there was any security breach at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport even though security was already tight there after last November’s terror attack in Paris. It was reported that terrorists had tried to induct airport staff and some employees had been fired on suspicious grounds.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Friday there is “absolutely no indication of the causes” behind the disappearance of EgyptAir flight 804.
The captain, Mohamed Said Shoukair, had 6,275 flying hours’ experience and he did not send any distress signal.
Egyptian Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi said: “Let’s not try to jump to the side that is trying to identify this as a technical failure – on the contrary.
“If you analyse the situation properly, the possibility of having a different action, or having a terror attack, is higher than the possibility of having a technical [fault].”
However, so far no terror group has claimed an attack.
French President Francois Hollande said: “We will draw conclusions when we have the truth about what happened.
“Whether it was an accident, or whether it was – and it’s something that is on our minds – terrorism.”