EgyptAir yesterday retracted its earlier claim that wreckage found during the search for Flight MS804 is from the missing plane.
The aircraft early yesterday disappeared over the Mediterranean with 56 passengers and 10 crew on board including one British national. It was en route from Paris to Egypt. The airline had earlier released a statement saying it has received an official letter from the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirming the wreckage was discovered near Karpathos Island.
The statement said: “EgyptAir sincerely conveys its deepest sorrow to the families and friends of the passengers onboard Flight MS804. “Family members of passengers and crew have been already informed and we extend our deepest sympathies to those affected.
“Meanwhile, the Egyptian investigation team, in cooperation with the Greek counterpart are still searching for other remains of the missing plane.” Thirty Egyptians, 15 French, two Iraqis, a Belgian, a Kuwaiti, a Saudi, a Sudanese, a Chadian, an Algerian, a Portuguese and a Canadian are among the passengers which also include one child and two babies.
Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy said the plane was more likely to have been brought down by a “terror attack” than a technical fault.
The Greek authorities had said that floating debris did not belong to the plane
French President Francois Hollande said “unfortunately the information we have … confirms to us the plane came down and is lost”. Greek defence minister Panos Kammenos said the aircraft was in Egyptian airspace and flying at 37,000ft when it made “sudden swerves” and plunged to 15,000ft.
He said it swerved “90 degrees left and then 360 degrees to the right” before vanishing.
Authorities are examining CCTV footage at Charles de Gaulle Airport and investigating an account from the captain of a merchant ship who reported seeing a “flame in the sky” some 130 nautical miles south of Karpathos.
Mr Fathy said there were no known security issues with the passengers who boarded the jet, but further checks were being made. Flight MS804 departed from the French capital at 10.09pm BST. The airline said the plane lost contact with radar at 1.30am BST. It was last in touch 10 minutes earlier.
At that stage the Airbus A320, which was 13 years old and had logged 48,000 flight hours, was about three hours and 40 minutes into the four-hour journey.
Military search and rescue teams picked up an automated signal from the plane’s emergency beacon at 3.26am BST – around 80 minutes after it was supposed to land in Cairo.
It is thought this may have been triggered on impact.
Greek and French boats and planes have joined special teams from the Egyptian armed forces in the search for the jet. Greece also has a submarine on standby, while Britain and the US have offered their support too.