No wreckage found from crashed EgyptAir plane
EgyptAir’s vice chairman declared that no wreckage has been found from the company’s airliner that crashed on its way from Paris to Cairo. The statement was a complete reversal from his earlier statement to CNN.
“We stand corrected on finding the wreckage because what we identified is not a part of our plane. So the search and rescue is still going on,” Ahmed Adel told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
An act of terror is suspected, and there is no indication any of the 66 passengers and crew survived.
Within an hour of Adel’s original claim that the wreckage had been found, a Greek official went on state TV and said the opposite.
The head of Greece’s Air Accident Investigation and Air Safety Board declared the wreckage did not even belong to an aircraft.
Flight MS804 was flying at about 37,000 feet when it suddenly swerved, dove and faded off the radar at 2:29 a.m.Eastern European Time.
Minutes later, Egypt scrambled a massive search operation. The U.S. Navy and Greece also joined the search.
No distress signal was issued by the crew.
An Egyptian official in a Thursday morning news conference said that an act of terror was more likely than mechanical failure. United States sources later told CNN that they were operating under the initial theory that a bomb brought the plane down.
CNN reported that so far no passengers’ names have been found on terror watch lists.
A security sweep had been conducted on the plane before it left Paris.
“All the procedures that should have been done in Paris were done, to the letter,” said Adel.
The wild veering indicated that the pilot had lost control of the aircraft, according to CNN, making the bomb theory more feasible.
“It turned 90 degrees left and then a 360-degree turn toward the right, dropping from 38,000 to 15,000 feet and then it was lost at about 10,000 feet,” said Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos.
Such dramatic shifts in course are inconsistent with mechanical failure, said CNN aviation analyst Mary Schiavo.
About two hours after the plane vanished, searchers detected the airliner’s emergency beacon in the vicinity of the crash. The battery-powered signal automatically deploys when a plane crashes or suddenly loses altitude.
Greek air traffic authorities said the flight appeared normal when they were about to hand the plane over to their Egyptian counterparts. Then the pilot didn’t respond to their calls.
The plane was about 10 miles into Egyptian airspace and about 40 or 50 miles from the country’s coast when it disappeared.
French President Francois Hollande confirmed Thursday morning that the plane had crashed. France has extended its state of emergency. Aside from an increased security presence and scrutiny of flights bound for the U.S., operations remained normal at Charles de Gaulle Airport, where MS804 originated.
Paris and Egyptian prosecutors have opened an investigation, the Associated Press reported.
There were no Americans aboard the craft. The airline released the passengers’ nationalities in a tweet early Thursday.
Among the victims: 30 Egyptian, 15 French, one British, one Belgian, two Iraqi, one Kuwaiti, one Saudi, one Sudanese, one Chadian, one Portuguese, one Algerian and one Canadian.
The plane, an Airbus A320, was relatively new and the crew was experienced. The craft was manufactured in 2003 and maintenance records checked out. The plane’s captain had 6,275 hours of experience, including 2,101 hours on the Airbus 320. The co-pilot had 2,766 flying hours, EgyptAir reported.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi chaired an emergency meeting of the country’s national security council Thursday to discuss the flight’s disappearance, CNN reported.
In March, an EgyptAir flight heading to Cairo was hijacked by a man claiming to have a bomb strapped to his chest. The plane was diverted to Cyprus, and after an hours-long standoff, the bomb turned out to be a fake, and all passengers and crew were released unharmed.