Ahram Online , Friday 20 May 2016
An Egyptian military search boat takes part in a search operation for the EgyptAir plane that disappeared in the Mediterranean Sea in this still image taken from video May 19, 2016. (Egyptian Military/Handout via Reuters)
Egyptian authorities have found a body part, two seats and suitcases in the Mediterranean where they are searching for the missing EgyptAir plane, the Greek defence minister told reporters in Athens on Friday.
An official Egyptian military spokesman said in a separate statement on Friday that its airplanes and ships had located "personal belongings of the passengers and parts of the plane debris," in the sea 290km north of Alexandria.
The Egyptian authorities, assisted by forces from France, Greece, Britain, Cyprus and Italy, continue to scour the search area for futher debris from the plane that disappeared from radar while flying over the Mediterranean on Thursday. All 66 on board are presumed to have perished.
The Airbus 320 jet, which was flying from Paris to Cairo, disappeared from radar screens shortly after entering Egyptian airspace early on Thursday morning.
Egyptian state television aired video footage of Egyptian air and naval forces during the search process.
Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said earlier that flight MS804 had swerved sharply and plummeted from 37,000 feet to 15,000 before plunging into the sea.
The Egyptian army said that no distress signal had been received from the plane.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi offered condolences on Friday to the families of victims of the tragedy, declaring his country's official confirmation of the deaths.
The head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II, said a mass service would be held for the deceased at Cairo's Abbasiya Cathedral on Sunday.
Three French investigators and a technical expert from Airbus arrived in Cairo early on Friday to assist in the hunt for the missing passenger jet, airport sources said. AP reported that three British investigators also arrived to the Egyptian capital to help in the probe.
Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said on Thursday that it was premature to "rule out or confirm" any scenario behind the disaster until the search process and probe is completed.
However, the country's civil aviation minister, Sherif Fathi, told reporters the chances that the Airbus was downed by a terror attack were "higher than the possibility of a technical failure."
French President Francois Hollande said on Thursday that authorities in Paris had also opened investigations.
French nationals made up the second-largest number of passengers on board the doomed plane, at 15. Thirty Egyptians, including seven crew member and three security personnel, were on board. The other passengers included two Iraqis, two Canadians, and one each from the UK, Belgium, Chad, Sudan, Kuwait, Algeria, and Portugal.
Several families of French victims arrived in Cairo late on Thursday to get news on their loved ones, Egypt's state news agency MENA said.
EgyptAir said on Friday it had enlisted the help of international emergency group Kenyon to "assist with the care of those touched by this tragedy."
The cause of the crash is yet to be determined, but there are fears of a link to IS militant group, who claimed to have downed a Russian passenger plane in October 2015 which took off from Egypt's resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh and crashed in Sinai, killing all 224 on board.
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Friday, May 20, 2016
Ahram Online , Friday 20 May 2016