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Monday, May 23, 2016

EgyptAir passenger plane crash over Mediterranean: no theory should be ruled out at the moment as the investigation is ongoing

EgyptAir airplane
(Image: The Telegraph)
Ahram-Online materials - CAIRO: An EgyptAir flight vanished early this morning en route from Paris to Cairo. Radar signals from flight MS804 were lost at 2:30am Cairo time, EgyptAir have said, around the time the flight entered Egyptian airspace over the Mediterranean.

The commercial flight left Paris at 11:09pm GMT and was due to land at Cairo airport at 03:15am local time.

Sources told Al-Ahram Arabic website that air traffic controllers in Athens had failed to establish communication with the pilot after the plane went off the radar.

Fifty-six passengers and 10 crew members are on board.

Authorities say they lost contact with the plane as it was cruising at an altitude of 37,000 feet at 2:45am Cairo local time.

Rescue teams and the Egyptian armed forces have been searching the area where the plane was last spotted on the radar.

The company identified the plane as an Airbus 320 manufactured in 2003.

The pilot, who was identified by sources as Captain Mohamed Shokeir, has over 6,000 flight hours while the copilot has over 2,000 hours of flight.

A map showing the place where Egyptian airplane disappeared from
radars and probably crashed
(Image: NBC News)
Meanwhile Egyptian investigators looking into the crash of an EgyptAir jet in the Mediterranean said on Saturday they were analysing data including signals sent from the aircraft, but it was too soon to reach any conclusions.

They said in a statement they were assessing material from air traffic control, aircraft and crew documents, and aircraft data management systems AIRMAN and ACARS, which download maintenance and fault data to an airline operator.

"It is far too early to make judgments or decisions on a single source of information such as the ACARS messages, which are signals or indicators that may have different causes (and) thus require further analysis," the statement said.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Saturday that no theory on the cause of the EgyptAir crash has been ruled out, after revelations of smoke in the cabin minutes before the disaster.

"At this time... all theories are being examined and none is favoured," he told a news conference after meeting with relatives of passengers who were aboard the doomed A320 which left Paris early Thursday for Cairo.

Egyptian military vessels on the search of the debris of the
airplane and black boxes
(Image: Egyptian Armed Forces website)
"The reports circulating here and there, which by the way are sometimes contradictory, give rise too often to nearly definitive conclusions," Ayrault said, warning of the "painful tension" caused to the families of the victims.

"Finding the plane is of course the priority, along with finding the black boxes to analyse them, which will allow us to answer legitimate questions," he said, referring to the voice and flight data recorders.

France's "dual goal" is to offer "solidarity with the families but also transparency... on the circumstances of this plane's disappearance," said the foreign minister, who was joined by Egypt's ambassador to France at the meeting with the family members.

The passengers included 30 Egyptians, 15 French citizens, two Iraqis, two Canadians, and citizens from Algeria, Belgium, Britain, Chad, Portugal, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. They included a boy and two babies.

Seven crew members and three security personnel were also on board.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi urged local and international media outlets Sunday not to jump to conclusions about the crash of EgyptAir flight MS804, adding that all possible causes for the disaster were being reviewed thoroughly.

"Investigations take time, [so] there is no need to rush in to conclusions now," El-Sisi told a crowd of dozens during a speech to inaugurate the expansion of the Misr Fertilizer Production Company in Damietta.

El-Sisi added that Egyptian and French officials are coordinating investigations into the causes of the crash of the Airbus 320.

The debris of EgyptAir crashed airplane
(Image: Reuters)
The Egyptian President revealed during his speech that early Sunday a Ministry of Petroleum submarine will search for the airplane's two black boxes.

While offering his condolences to the families of MS804 victims, El-Sisi said that he was informed of the crash at 4am Thursday, after which search and rescue teams from Egyptian Air Force and Navy were promptly ordered to aid in the international search for wreckage of the missing plane.

Praising the speedy response state institutions made to the EgyptAir MS804 crash, the Egyptian president demanded officials involved in the ongoing investigations keep the public informed of any potential discoveries regarding the cause of the disaster.

El-Sisi's comments on Sunday marked the first time the president had spoken publicly about Thursday's MS804 crash that is believed to have killed all 66 people onboard.

"There is an attempt to obstruct our investigations, but amazingly that pressure only strengthens our resolve," El-Sisi said.