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Missing flight MS804
Wreckage found 'from crashed EgyptAir flight from Paris'
Relatives of passengers who were on the EgyptAir plane. Photo: AFP

Wreckage found 'from crashed EgyptAir flight from Paris'

The Local/AFP · 19 May 2016, 19:43

Published: 19 May 2016 06:46 GMT+02:00
Updated: 19 May 2016 19:43 GMT+02:00

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22:13 - Wreckage found, says EgyptAir
EgyptAir has confirmed that wreckage from the plane has been discovered.  
"EgyptAir resource stated that the Egyptian Ministry of Civil Aviation has just received an official letter from the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declaring the finding of wreckage of the missing aircraft No. MS 804 near Karpathos Island," the company said in a statement.
The company conveyed its "deepest sorrow to the families and friends of the passengers onboard", adding that these family members had been informed.
EgyptAir said that the Egyptian Investigation Team with its Greek counterpart were still searching for other remains of the missing plane.
Thead of the Greek air safety authority, however, denied the claims and said the debris "does not come from a plane".
"Up to now the analysis of the debris indicates that it does not come from a plane, my Egyptian counterpart also confirmed to me that it was not yet proven that the debris came from the EgyptAir flight when we were last in contact around 1745 GMT," Athanasios Binis told AFP.
"What was found was a piece of wood, and some materials that do not come from a plane."
"Based on the available geographical information, we are talking about the same debris," he added, although he stressed that new information could come in at any time.
Click here to read what we know about the crash so far, here to read about the passengers on board, and here to see why experts think terrorists are "likely" behind the crash. 
18:20 - Wreckage still missing
The flight is understood to have crashed around 15 hours ago - almost certainly in the Mediterranean Sea - but the wreckage remains missing. 
The Greek army has said that debris has been found, and one ship captain shared pictures of what appeared to be life jackets (see below) - but EgyptAir has just said that it cannot confirm that any wreckage has been found. 
The search for the wreckage continues as the evening begins.
Terror attack 'likeliest cause' of missing EgyptAir plane
17:15 - US Navy sends surveillance plane in EgyptAir search
The US Navy has deployed a long range P-3 Orion surveillance plane to help search for the wreckage of the EgyptAir flight that crashed into the Mediterranean on Thursday, officials said.

"US Commander Sixth Fleet is working with the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Greece and the US Defense Attache in Athens, Greece to provide US Navy P-3 Orion support in the search of the missing Egyptian aircraft," the Navy said in a statement.

The surveillance plane had been sent from Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily.

Separately, the White House said President Barack Obama is being updated by counter-terrorism staff on investigations.

"The president asked to be updated throughout the day as the situation warrants, and directed administration officials to reach out to their international counterparts to offer support and assistance," White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.

File photo of a P3-Orion: AFP
16:46 - First pictures of debris?
A captain of a Maersk ship who posted on Facebook that he is helping with the search party has shared pictures of what appears to be a lifejacket floating in the Mediterranean Sea.
Further details remain unclear at this point. 
16:27 - Another EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo is boarding
There are two more flights scheduled between Paris and Cairo today for EgyptAir. It's understood that families of the missing passengers are on board the first flight, now boarding. Take off is imminent. 
16:15 - So was it a terror attack?
The reason the flight crashed remains unknown, but many analysts, media, and commentators have been quick to question whether terrorists were involved. 
However, no one has claimed responsibility for bringing down the plane - at least not yet. When Isis downed the Metrojet Flight 9268 - which was flying out of Egypt in late October last year - they claimed responsibility by the same afternoon. 
There have as yet been no reports of Isis, or any other group, claiming the attacks. 
Some aviation experts and Egypt's aviation minister have said that a "terror" attack is a probable explanation for the disappearance of the plane. 

Egyptian aviation minister Sherif Fathy addresses press. Photo: Khaled Desouki/AFP
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump also chimed in that he thought the crash appeared to be "yet another terrorist attack."
Inspection of the wreckage will likely settle whether there were any explosives on board, and thus whether terrorists were involved. 
Meanwhile, a pilot flying in the same airspace at the same time as the missing MS804 has told the BBC that weather conditions were "perfect" and that there had been no issues with communications.
Experts have pointed out that a malfunction of the plane appears unlikely, especially considering it has only been flying since 2003.
Others have pointed out that it's unlikely the plane was shot down as the region is highly monitored, and because such an attack would unlikely go unnoticed. 
15:51 - Confirmed: Debris found off Greek island
A possible wreckage may have been found just off the Greek island of Crete. 
"There have been finds southeast of Crete, inside the Cairo flight information area," general staff spokesman Vassilis Beletsiotis said, adding that an Egyptian C-130 plane had spotted the floating objects, and ships would be sent to investigate.
15:41 'Terrorism' more likely than technical failure in missing plane: Egypt minister
Egypt's aviation minister has said that a "terror" attack was a more probable explanation for the disappearance of the EgyptAir flight than technical failure.
"The possibility of having a different action on board, of having a terror attack, it is higher than the possibility of having a technical" failure, Sherif Fathy told a news conference, adding that he still had no information on the plane's fate.
The sentiment matches that of several experts who have suggested a terror attack would explain the lack of a distress call. 

Sherif Fathy addresses journalists. Photo: Khaled Desouki/AFP
15:00 - Possible debris found in Mediterranean -  unconfirmed reports
A report from Reuters, citing an unnamed Greek defence source, says that two large plastic objects have been found 80km south of Karpathos, close to where the plane disappeared from the radar.
AFP also reported the find, citing the Greek armed forces.
14:50 - Minute of silence in French senate
A minute of silence was held in the Senate at Paris, BFMTV reported, in tribute to the 66 passengers on board the Egypt Air flight, now presumed crashed.
14:44 - 'No known security issues'
The Egyptian aviation minister, Sherif Fathy, has insisted that air travel to and from Egypt is safe. He denied that the plan had been suffering technical problems and said that there were no known security issues connected to any passengers or crew on flight MS 804.
Though he stressed the need to avoid jumping to conclusions, he conceded that terrorism was "more likely" to have been the cause of the disappearance than a technical issue. While many have been quick to describe the disappearance as an act of terrorism, no terror groups have yet claimed responsibility.
Fathy confirmed that the search operation was focussing on the area around Crete and Karpathos, but could not specify how large the search radius was.
14:20 - RECAP: What we know so far
Just joining us? Click here to read what we know so far about flight MS804, which crashed after leaving Paris on Wednesday night. 
What we know about the missing EgyptAir flight
14:18 - Egypt 'can't rule out' attack or technical failure
Egypt's aviation minister said he could not rule out that an attack or a technical failure brought down the EgyptAir flight, adding that no wreckage had been found.
"I don't deny the hypothesis of a terrorist attack or something technical. It is too early," Sherif Fathy told a news conference.

"I have no information that wreckage has been found for now," he said, adding that he could not even confirm whether the plane had crashed.

13:33 - Families of passengers are transported to a 'gathering point' at Cairo airport

The families comfort each other as they wait outside a services hall at the airport. Photo: Khaled Desouki/AFP

Photo: Khaled Desouki/AFP

EgyptAir transported the relatives by bus to a gathering point. Photo: Khaled Desouki/AFP

13.21 - EgyptAir plane fell 22,000 feet, swerved sharply: Greek minister
The EgyptAir flight fell 22,000 feet and swerved sharply in Egyptian airspace before it disappeared from radar screens, Greece's defence minister said.
"The plane carried out a 90-degree turn to the left and a 360-degree turn to the right, falling from 37,000 to 15,000 feet and the signal was lost at around 10,000 feet," Defence Minister Panos Kammenos told a news conference.
13:01 - 'No problem' mentioned by EgyptAir pilot in last contact: Greek official
The pilot had "not mentioned a problem" in his final contact, the Greek civil aviation said.
"The flight controllers contacted the pilot (with the plane) at a height of 37,000 feet (near Athens)... he did not mention a problem," civil aviation chief Constantinos Litzerakos told Antenna TV.
Litzerakos said the controllers had last spoken to the pilot "around 0005 GMT", some 25 minutes before the plane disappeared from Greek radar.
Story continues below…
A civil aviation statement said the pilot "was in a good mood and gave thanks in Greek when authorized to exit the Athens flight information region.
"We tracked the entire process from the plane's entry (into Greek airspace) to its exit, it does not appear to deviate at all from the coordinates we gave," Litzerakos said.

12:25 - Hollande confirms EgyptAir flight 'crashed'

French President Francois Hollande confirmed that the flight had "crashed", adding: "We will get the truth."

"It is out duty to find out and understand everything about the causes of what has happened. No hypothesis will be ruled out" he said, expressing his "solidarity" and "compassion" with the families of passengers.

Meanwhile, the Paris Prosecutor's department has opened an inquiry into the plane's disappearance, Le Figaro reported.

12:01 - Terrorist attack 'most likely cause' of disappearance: experts

Experts explained that the chances of a mechanical malfunction on the flight were slim.

"A bomb placed on board at Roissy or in Cairo is always possible because it's difficult to make your airport 100 percent watertight, even in an airport with such tight surveillance as Roissy (Charles de Gaulle)," said aeronautics expert Gerard Feldzer.

Read more here.

File photo: Yusuke Kawasaki/Flickr

11:27 – EgyptAir's two Paris-Cairo flights will run today

The airline’s two scheduled flights from Charles de Gaulle airport to Cairo will run as normal on Thursday, reported BFMTV. The flights are scheduled for 3:45pm and 10:45pm.

Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has also arrived at the airport, where he will meet relatives of passengers who have gathered at the EgyptAir desk.

10:54 - Relatives "leaving the airport"

Some relatives of those on board the flight are leaving Cairo's airport, according to a BBC reporter on the scene. He said on Twitter that relatives had told him they were still awaiting an official update and that the mother of a stewardess on board said: "We know nothing".

10:30 - France and Egypt exchange "condolences"

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault "expressed condolences over the plane incident involving the EgyptAir airplane that went down, and Shoukry in turn expressed condolences for the French casualties who were on board the plane," the Egyptian foreign ministry said.

The French Embassy in Cairo reported that Ayrault expressed France's solidarity with Egypt in this "terrible ordeal" and that both ministers "emphasized the importance of close co-ordination between the two countries in the assistance of the families, as well as in investigating the causes of the disappearance".

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has reportedly set up a "crisis cell" at Cairo's French Embassy.

Meanwhile, family members of those on board are gathering at Cairo's airport.

10:20 - MarineTraffic shows ships joining the search

Ship tracking website MarineTraffic has created a video showing vessels joining the search for the missing plane.

You can also follow the live map here, which shows more and more nearby ships joining, including Egyptian, French and international vessels.

10:16 - Airbus confirms disappearance

In a statement on their Facebook page, Airbus confirmed the disappearance of flight MS 804, saying the plane was "lost over the Mediterranean Sea" but not confirming reports that it had crashed. It said that the plane had accumulated around 48,000 flight hours.

"Airbus stands-by ready to provide full technical assistance to French Investigation Agency - BEA - and to the Authorities in charge of the investigation," continued the statement.

Like EgyptAir, Airbus has changed its cover photo on Facebook to a blank grey image, in apparent reference to the disappearance.

9:56 - Flight crashed off Greek island of Karpathos, says aviation source

An EgyptAir flight which disappeared from radar screens en route from Paris to Cairo early Thursday, "crashed" into the sea off the southern Greek island of Karpathos while in Egyptian airspace, a Greece aviation source told AFP.

"At around 0029 GMT (3:29 am) when it was in Egyptian airspace, the plane disappeared from Greek radars... it crashed around 130 nautical miles off the island of Karpathos" between Rhodes and Crete, the source told AFP.

The report is unconfirmed and EgyptAir continues to remind media to "abide" by its press releases, which have not yet confirmed where the plane disappeared. It said it denied all "misleading information" regarding the reasons for the disappearance, and confirmed that the reason has not been confirmed.

9:40 - Egypt army denies detecting distress signal from missing plane

The Egyptian army denied it detected any "distress messages" from an EgyptAir flight that vanished over the Mediterranean on Thursday, in a statement posted on its spokesman's Facebook page.

EgyptAir had said it was informed by the military that it detected a "distress message" from the Airbus A320 which was en route from Paris to Cairo when it disappeared from radar screens.

9:32 - Crisis  meeting at the Elysee

Top ministers met at the Elysee Presidential palace in Paris for a crisis meeting about the Egypt Air flight and France's response.

French foreign minister Ayrault said: "Everything must be done to find the plane," adding that France was ready to send its "military means, planes and boats" to aid in the search.

French junior minister for Transport, Maritime Economy and Fishery Alain Vidalies and foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault speak to press. Photo: Stephane de Sakutin/AFP

9:16 - Who was on board the flight?

EgyptAir has confirmed that among the 56 passengers and 10 crew members, there were two babies and one child. The airline is hosting passengers' families near the Cairo airport and has provided doctors and translators.

Read more here.

Photo: Andy Buchanan/AFP

9:03 - Help hotline in France
A help hotline has been set up in France: 01 43 17 55 95
Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said his team was working with Egypt embassy officials to gather information on the plane's disappearance.
"I share the anguish felt by the passengers' families," he said.
8:58 - Statement from Egypt Air
A full statement from the airline has been released. It mentions nothing of a crash, but says the aircraft officially lost contact with radar "above the Mediterranean Sea about 280km from the Egyptian seacoast at 2:30am CLT" - some 45 minutes before the scheduled landing time at Cairo Airport.
The airline confirmed that there are 56 passengers and 10 cabin crew members.
It added that it has contacted the families of those who were on the flight, many of whom are at the Cairo airport. 
The airline offered the following numbers for more information: 080077770000 from any landline in Egypt. +202 25989320 from any mobile phone or from outside Egypt.
Read the full statement here.
8:45 - Plane had sent a distress signal

The flight sent a distress message before vanishing from radar screens, a message that was detected by the military, the airline said in a statement.

The message was received at 0226 GMT, less than 10 minutes before the flight disappeared, an EgyptAir official told AFP.
8:30 - Plane has crashed, according to reports
The first reports are coming in that the plane had crashed. AP said the information comes from Egyptian aviation officials (see tweet below), who gave the information anonymously.
8.20 - 15 French on board 
EgyptAir said in a statement that the flight was carrying 15 French passengers and 30 Egyptians. There was also a Brit, a Canadian, an Algerian, a Belgian, a Chadian, two Iraqis, a Kuwaiti, a Portuguese, a Saudi and a Sudanese on board the flight. 
8:00 - A look at the Flight Radar
Normally a four-hour flight
A tweet on the airline's official account said flight MS804 left Paris at 11:09 pm local time (2109 GMT), "heading to Cairo (and) has disappeared from radar".

Further tweets in Arabic said contact was lost at 2:45 am Cairo time (0045 GMT), when the plane was just inside Egyptian airspace and at an altitude of 37,000 feet (11,000 metres).

There were 59 passengers and 10 crew aboard, according to the airline.

"EGYPTAIR has contacted the concerned authorities and bodies and inspection is underway through the rescue teams," another tweet in English said.

The flight from Paris Charles de Gaulle to Cairo normally takes just over four hours and the plane was due to arrive at 3:05 am local time.

The Flightradar24 website said MS804 is an Airbus A320-232, and was delivered to the airline in 2003.

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

In October, the Isis group claimed responsibility for bombing a Russian airliner carrying holidaymakers from the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, killing all 224 people on board.

The disappearance of the jet on Thursday comes more than two years after the start of one of the most enduring mysteries in aviation history.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 vanished on March 8, 2014 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew onboard, mostly Chinese and Malaysians.

Authorities believe the Boeing 777 detoured to the remote southern Indian Ocean and then plunged into the water.

The costly, painstaking search for a crash site has yet to yield results, but five pieces of debris have been identified as either definitely or probably from the jet, all found thousands of kilometres (miles) from the search zone, likely swept there by ocean currents.

Theories to explain the disappearance include a possible mechanical or structural failure, a hijacking or terror plot, or rogue pilot action.

The Local/AFP (news.france@thelocal.com)

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