Wednesday 7 December 2016

Human remains from EgyptAir crash site 'point to explosion'

Raf Sanchez in Cairo

Published 25/05/2016 | 02:30

Relatives of the Christian victims of the crashed EgyptAir flight MS804 attend an absentee funeral mass at the main Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt
Relatives of the Christian victims of the crashed EgyptAir flight MS804 attend an absentee funeral mass at the main Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt

Body parts recovered from the crash site of EgyptAir Flight MS804 suggest there was an explosion aboard the aircraft, according to a senior Egyptian forensic official.

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The human remains are in small pieces, suggesting an explosion ripped through the A320 aircraft, killing the 66 passengers and crew.

"There isn't even a whole body part, like an arm or a head," the official said.

"The logical explanation is that an explosion brought it down."

Suspicions

The disclosure will add to suspicions that the plane was destroyed by a bomb, even though no terrorist group has claimed responsibility for last Thursday's crash, while other sources have denied that an explosion brought the plane down.

Officials say it is still too early to say what caused the blast and that so far no traces of explosives have been detected on the remains.

Around 80 body parts have been recovered so far.

"The size of the remains points towards an explosion, the biggest part was the size of a palm," an official said, adding about 23 bags of body parts had been collected since Sunday. With the bodies in small pieces, Egyptian investigators will be heavily reliant on DNA to try to identify the victims.

A team from the forensic medicine institute went to a Cairo airport hotel yesterday morning to begin gathering DNA samples from family members of the victims.

Other family members are going directly to the central morgue in Cairo to provide DNA samples.

France's aviation accident investigation agency would not comment on anything involving the bodies, or say whether any information has surfaced in the investigation to indicate an explosion.

Egypt has dispatched a submarine to search for the flight's black boxes and a French ship has joined the international effort to locate the wreckage and search for the plane's data recorders. Ships and planes from Britain, Cyprus, France, Greece and the United States are also taking part in the search for the debris from the aircraft, including the black boxes.

An official said: "The logical explanation is that an explosion brought it down.

"But I cannot say what caused the blast," he added.

Egyptian authorities have said they believe terrorism is a more likely explanation than equipment failure, and some aviation experts have said the erratic flight reported by the Greek defence minister suggests a bomb blast or a struggle in the cockpit. But so far no hard evidence has emerged.

An independent Cairo newspaper, 'al-Watan', quoted an unnamed forensics official as saying the plane blew up in mid-air but that it has yet to be determined whether the blast was caused by an explosive device or something else.

France's aviation accident investigation agency would not comment on anything involving the bodies or say whether any information has surfaced in the investigation to indicate an explosion.

In a search for clues, family members of the victims arrived at the Cairo morgue forensics' department to give DNA samples to help identify the remains of their kin, a security official said.

Irish Independent

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