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Spotlight: Smoke detected on EgyptAir flight just before crash, search continues

Editor: Chen Yue 丨Xinhua

05-22-2016 17:58 BJT

Full coverage: EgyptAir Flight MS804 Missing

CAIRO, May 22 (Xinhua) -- After France said Saturday that crashed EgyptAir MS804 had transmitted automatic messages indicating smoke in the cabin, Egypt said later that this cannot not reveal the cause of the crash, as search for the plane wreckage and investigations continued.

The plane, an Airbus A320, disappeared from radar screens early Thursday en route from Paris to Cairo.It was later confirmed to have plunged into the Mediterranean with 66 people on board, including 30 Egyptians and 15 French.

Egyptian aviation minister said Thursday that a terrorist attack is more likely behind the crash than a technical failure.


Flight MS804 had transmitted automated messages indicating smoke in the cabin shortly before it plunged into the Mediterranean, France's aviation safety agency said.

However, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Saturday that no hypothesis on the cause of the crash has been ruled out, since "at this time... all theories are being examined and none is favored."

"Finding the plane is of course the priority, along with finding the black boxes to analyze them, which will allow us to answer legitimate questions," he said, vowing to "tell the entire truth about what happened."

"The question now is whether the fire that caused the smoke was the result of an electrical fault - for example a short-circuit caused by damaged wiring - or whether some form of explosive or incendiary device was used - for example by a terrorist - to generate a fire or other damage," aviation safety expert David Learmont said.

A preliminary report into the tragedy "will be published in one month ... and will include all the information gathered by the date of its publication," Ayman al-Moqadem, head of Egypt's Air Accidents Investigation department, was quoted by state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper as saying.


The Egyptian investigation committee said Saturday that it's "too early" to make judgments about the cause of the crash.

"We are looking at all information collected, but it is far too early to make judgment or decision based on a single source of information," the Egyptian Aircraft Accident Investigation Committee said in the report.

"The investigation process involves multiple technical specialists, representing many parties, multiple national agencies and international governments," the committee said.

The statement came after the Egyptian Foreign Ministry slammed Friday the CNN's crash coverage as "disrespectful."

"It's disrespectful that CNN insinuates pilot suicide in #EgyptAirMS804 tragedy while families are mourning," the ministry's spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid tweeted on Friday.

Also on Friday, the Egyptian armed forces said in a statement that they found some personal belongings and remains of the victims and parts of the plane wreckage in the Mediterranean Sea, 290 km north of the coastal city Alexandria.

Egypt's military has released pictures of wreckage recovered so far, including a pink bag decorated with butterflies, a life vest, shredded seat covers and mangled debris showing the EgyptAir's name.


Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi ordered Thursday an investigative committee formed by the civil aviation ministry to immediately start investigating the cause of the plane's disappearance.Egypt, Greece and France were all involved in the search for the plane.

Three investigators and a technical expert from France's air accident authority and Airbus arrived in Egypt early Friday morning to help investigate the tragedy, as the plane was manufactured in France.

Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos also said Friday that the country's military aircraft took off from the military base of Kastelli in the outskirts of Crete island to join a multinational operation to search for the plane wreckage.

Two C-130 planes were already participating in the operation, and a Super Puma helicopter was on standby at the island of Karpathos.

The Greek bases on the Crete island in the Mediterranean Sea will be available for allied forces participating in the ongoing operation if necessary, he said.

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