Wednesday 29 March 2017

'We stand corrected on finding the wreckage because what we identified is not a part of our plane'

EgyptAir jet carrying 66 passengers and crew disappeared from radar in 'terrorist attack'

Egypt's Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy speaks, after EgyptAir plane vanished from radar en route from Paris to Cairo, during a news conference at headquarters of ministry in Cairo, Egypt May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Egypt's Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy speaks, after EgyptAir plane vanished from radar en route from Paris to Cairo, during a news conference at headquarters of ministry in Cairo, Egypt May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Relatives of passengers on a vanished EgyptAir flight grieve as they leave the in-flight service building where they were held at Cairo International Airport, Egypt, Thursday, May 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
Journalists report near the EgyptAir desk at Charles de Gaulle airport, after an EgyptAir flight disappeared from radar during its flight from Paris to Cairo, in Paris, France in Paris, France, May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
Reporters gather in front of the EgyptAir counter at Charles de Gaulle Airport outside of Paris, Thursday, May 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Raphael Satter) (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
An EgyptAir Airbus A320 (Stock image)
People wait outside the international arrivals terminal at Cairo Airport, Egypt May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Security forces are seen outside the international arrivals terminal at Cairo Airport, Egypt May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
The last known position of the plane
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

An EgyptAir jet carrying 66 passengers and crew from Paris to Cairo disappeared from radar over the Mediterranean on Thursday in what Egypt said could have been a terrorist attack.

The Egyptian civil aviation ministry initially said Greek authorities had found "floating material" and life jackets likely to be from the plane, an Airbus A320. Greek defence sources told Reuters the material was discovered in the sea 230 miles (370 km) south of the island of Crete.

However, late on Thursday EgyptAir Vice President Ahmed Adel told CNN that the wreckage had not been found.

"We stand corrected on finding the wreckage because what we identified is not a part of our plane. So the search and rescue is still going on," Adel said.

An official from the Egyptian civil aviation ministry said Egypt, Greece, and France were all involved in the search for the plane.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ordered the civil aviation ministry, the army's search and rescue centre, the navy, and the air force to take all necessary measures to locate debris from the aircraft.

The track displayed on Flightradar24 showing the EgyptAir aircraft travelling from Paris to Cairo with 66 people on board which has disappeared from radar 10 miles into Egyptian airspace. Flightradar24/PA Wire
The track displayed on Flightradar24 showing the EgyptAir aircraft travelling from Paris to Cairo with 66 people on board which has disappeared from radar 10 miles into Egyptian airspace. Flightradar24/PA Wire

Read More: EgyptAir flight MS804 crash: British victim named as doctor's son Richard Osman, 40

In a statement issued by his office, Sisi also ordered an investigative committee formed by the civil aviation ministry to immediately start investigating the causes of the plane's disappearance.

Unidentified relatives and friends of passengers who were flying in an EgyptAir plane that vanished from radar en route from Paris to Cairo react as they wait outside the Egyptair in-flight service building where relatives are being held at Cairo International Airport, Egypt May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Unidentified relatives and friends of passengers who were flying in an EgyptAir plane that vanished from radar en route from Paris to Cairo react as they wait outside the Egyptair in-flight service building where relatives are being held at Cairo International Airport, Egypt May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Unidentified relatives and friends of passengers who were flying in an EgyptAir plane that vanished from radar en route from Paris to Cairo react as they wait outside the Egyptair in-flight service building where relatives are being held at Cairo International Airport, Egypt May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
An unidentified woman reacts as she waits outside the Egyptair in-flight service building, where relatives and friends of passengers who were flying in an EgyptAir plane that vanished from radar en route from Paris to Cairo are being held REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
An unidentified man reacts as he waits outside the Egyptair in-flight service building, where relatives and friends of passengers who were flying in an EgyptAir plane that vanished from radar en route from Paris to Cairo are being held REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault arrives at Charles de Gaulle airport's Mercure hotel where passenger relatives have been met by EgyptAir representatives (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
A reporter writes at the EgyptAir counter at Charles de Gaulle Airport outside of Paris, Thursday, May 19, 2016. An EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo with 66 passengers and crew on board(AP Photo/Michel Euler)
An unidentified woman reacts as she waits outside the Egyptair in-flight service building, where relatives and friends of passengers who were flying in an EgyptAir plane that vanished from radar en route from Paris to Cairo are being held, at Cairo International Airport, Egypt May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Unidentified relatives and friends of passengers who were flying in an EgyptAir plane that vanished from radar en route from Paris to Cairo react REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Unidentified relatives and friends of passengers who were flying in an EgyptAir plane that vanished from radar en route from Paris to Cairo react REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Unidentified relatives and friends of passengers who were flying in an EgyptAir plane that vanished from radar en route from Paris to Cairo react REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Unidentified relatives and friends of passengers who were flying in an EgyptAir plane that vanished from radar en route from Paris to Cairo react REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Unidentified relatives and friends of passengers who were flying in an EgyptAir plane that vanished from radar en route from Paris to Cairo react REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Unidentified relatives and friends of passengers who were flying in an EgyptAir plane that vanished from radar en route from Paris to Cairo react REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
A relative of the victims of the EgyptAir flight 804 that crashed, reacts as she makes a phone call at Charles de Gaulle Airport outside of Paris, Thursday, May 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Relatives of passengers on a vanished EgyptAir flight grieve as they leave the in-flight service building where they were held at Cairo International Airport, Egypt, Thursday, May 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
Unidentified relatives and friends of passengers who were flying in an EgyptAir plane that vanished from radar en route from Paris to Cairo react as they wait outside the Egyptair in-flight service building REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
A relative of the victims of the EgyptAir flight 804 is escorted at Charles de Gaulle Airport outside of Paris, Thursday, May 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
TV crews report near the EgyptAir desk at Charles de Gaulle airport, after an EgyptAir flight disappeared from radar during its flight from Paris to Cairo, in Paris, France, May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
Journalists report near the EgyptAir desk at Charles de Gaulle airport, after an EgyptAir flight disappeared from radar during its flight from Paris to Cairo, in Paris, France in Paris, France, May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
A frosted glass partition is seen at the EgyptAir counter at Charles de Gaulle Airport outside Paris, France, Thursday, May 19, 2016. EgyptAir said a flight from Paris to Cairo disappeared from radar early Thursday morning. (AP Photo/Raphael Satter)
The company logo is displayed on a video camera screen at the Egyptair desk at Charles de Gaulle airport, after an Egyptair flight disappeared from radar during its flight from Paris to Cairo, in Paris, France, May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
A journalist reports from the Egyptair desk at Charles de Gaulle airport, after an Egyptair flight disappeared from radar during its flight from Paris to Cairo, in Paris, France, May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
Reporters gather in front of the EgyptAir counter at Charles de Gaulle Airport outside of Paris, Thursday, May 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Raphael Satter) (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Reporters gather in front of the EgyptAir counter at Charles de Gaulle Airport outside of Paris, Thursday, May 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Raphael Satter) (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
The Egyptair in-flight service building where relatives are being held at Cairo International Airport, Egypt, Thursday, May 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
The flight path of EgyptAir flight MS804 from Paris to Cairo is seen on a flight tracking screen May 19, 2016. Courtesy Flightradar24.com/Handout via Reuters
FILE PHOTO - A general view shows the Terminal 1 at the Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Roissy, near Paris September 17, 2014, where missing EgyptAir flight MS804 originated from. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo
An empty Egyptair counter is seen at terminal 1 at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, France, May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
FILE PHOTO - An EgyptAir plane is seen on the runway at Cairo Airport, Egypt in this September 5, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany/File Photo
FILE PHOTO - EgyptAir planes are pictured parked on the runway at Cairo Airport, September 5, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany/File Photo
A policeman stands guard at terminal 1 at Charles de Gaulle airport, after an Egyptair flight disappeared from radar during its flight from Paris to Cairo, in Paris, France, May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
An empty chair seen at the Egyptair desk at Charles de Gaulle airport, after an Egyptair flight disappeared from radar during its flight from Paris to Cairo, in Paris, France, May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
A man passes the Egyptair desk at Charles de Gaulle airport, after an Egyptair flight disappeared from radar during its flight from Paris to Cairo, in Paris, France, May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
Police take up position at terminal 1 at Charles de Gaulle airport, after an Egyptair flight disappeared from radar during its flight from Paris to Cairo, in Paris, France, May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said it was too early to rule out any explanation for the crash, including an attack like the one blamed for bringing down a Russian airliner over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula last year. The country's aviation minister said a terrorist attack was more likely than a technical failure.

Officials from multiple U.S. agencies told Reuters that a U.S. review of satellite imagery so far had not produced any signs of an explosion aboard the EgyptAir flight.

The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said the conclusion was the result of a preliminary examination of imagery and cautioned against media reports suggesting the United States believed a bomb was responsible for the crash.

They said the United States has not ruled out any possible causes for the crash, including mechanical failure, terrorism or a deliberate act by the pilot or crew.

READ MORE: EgyptAir Flight MS804: What we know so far

Greece had deployed aircraft and a frigate to search for the missing plane. Egypt said it would lead the investigation and France would participate. Paris said three investigators would arrive in Egypt on Thursday evening.

Security forces are seen outside the international arrivals terminal at Cairo Airport, Egypt May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Security forces are seen outside the international arrivals terminal at Cairo Airport, Egypt May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

In Washington, President Barack Obama received a briefing on the disappearance from his adviser for homeland security and counter-terrorism, the White House said. A White House spokesman said it was too early to know the cause of the crash and offered condolences.

In its first admission that those on board the plane had died, EgyptAir said in a statement on Twitter, "EgyptAir expresses condolences to the families of the plane's victims and expresses its deep sorrow over this tragic accident. The company affirms it will take all measures to handle the situation and will conduct a comprehensive investigation."

Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said the Airbus swerved 90 degrees to the left, spun through 360 degrees to the right and plunged from 37,000 feet to 15,000 before vanishing from Greek radar screens.

According to Greece's civil aviation chief, calls from Greek air traffic controllers to flight MS804 went unanswered just before it left Greek airspace, and it disappeared from radar screens soon afterwards.

READ MORE: Airbus A320: Short-haul workhorse with one of aviation industry's best safety records  

There was no official indication of a possible cause, whether technical failure, human error or sabotage. Ultra-hardline Islamists have targeted airports, airliners and tourist sites in Europe, Egypt, Tunisia and other Middle Eastern countries over the past few years.

Asked if he could rule out terrorist involvement, Ismail told reporters: "We cannot exclude anything at this time or confirm anything. All the search operations must be concluded so we can know the cause."

French President Francois Hollande also said the cause was unknown. "No hypothesis can be ruled out, nor can any be favoured over another."

The aircraft was carrying 56 passengers - with one child and two infants among them - and 10 crew, EgyptAir said. They included 30 Egyptian and 15 French nationals, along with citizens of 10 other countries.

READ MORE: French government: 'No theory can be ruled out regarding missing plane'  

The Canadian government said on Thursday that two Canadian citizens were aboard and Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion said Canadian officials were working with authorities to confirm if any other Canadians were on the flight.

The U.S. State Department said there was no indication that American citizens were on board.

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