19 May 2016

EgyptAir Flight MS804: Wreckage found near Greece; ...crash more likely terror attack than technical failure

Greek officials said Thursday that an EgyptAir flight that disappeared over the Mediterranean en route from Paris to Cairo with 66 people aboard apparently made two sharp turns then suddenly lost altitude before vanishing from radar.

Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi said the possibility of a terror attack as the cause of the crash of flight MS804 is "higher than that of a technical error,” Egypt's state-run newspaper Al-Ahram reported.

EgyptAir said Greek authorities had found floating materials, including life vests, likely to be the wreckage from the plane. The airline said the debris was found near the Greek island of Karpathos.


"EgyptAir resource stated that the Egyptian Ministry of Civil Aviation has just received an official letter from the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs that confirms the finding of wreckage of the missing aircraft No. MS 804 near Karpathos Island.

"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 co-operation with the Greek counterpart are still searching for other remains of the missing plane."
Egyptian and Greek authorities said the plane likely went down near the Greek island of Crete. Greek TV reported two floating orange objects that could be airplane debris were spotted in the ocean 50 miles southeast of the area where the plane vanished from radar about 174 miles off the Egyptian coast.

Greek civil aviation authorities say all appeared fine with the flight until air traffic controllers were preparing to hand it over to their Egyptian counterparts. The pilot did not respond to their calls, and the aircraft then vanished from radar just after entering Egyptian airspace.

“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.
About 40 minutes before the plane vanished, Greek air traffic controllers said the pilot was in good spirits and reported no problems as he flew over the Greek island of Kea, according to a statement by the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority.

Al-Ahram identified the pilot as Captain Mohamed Shokeir. The airline said he had 6,275 hours of flying experience, including 2,101 hours on the A320 aircraft used in the flight.

The French military said a Falcon surveillance jet monitoring the Mediterranean for migrants was diverted to help in the Egypt-led search effort for the airliner. Greece's defense ministry also mobilized a search-and-rescue operation. U.S. Commander Sixth Fleet is working to provide U.S. Navy P-3 Orion support, according to the U.S. Navy.


Credit: USA Today / The Guardian

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