EgyptAir MS804: 'Traces of explosives' found on victims' bodies

Officials warn against drawing conclusions on cause of crash that killed 66 people

Egypt Air
(Image credit: Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Air accident investigators from Egypt claim to have found traces of explosives on the remains of victims of the EgyptAir flight that crashed into the Mediterranean in May, killing all 66 people on board.

The claim suggests the crash was "caused by a bomb", The Guardian reports. However, Reuters says French officials have "warned against drawing conclusions on the cause of the crash".

A spokeswoman for France's BEA air crash investigation agency said: "In the absence of detailed information on the conditions and ways in which samples were taken leading to the detection of traces of explosives, the BEA considers that it is not possible at this stage to draw conclusions on the origin of the accident."

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French investigators earlier said they had found trace levels of the explosive material TNT on the plane's debris in September, "but were prevented from further examining it", says Reuters. Egyptian authorities denied claims they were obstructing the French investigation.

EgyptAir MS804: Does black box evidence solve the mystery?

6 July 2016

The crew of EgyptAir flight MS804 desperately trying to put out a fire moments before the plane plunged into the Mediterranean, according to the plane's "black box".

The recording is not enough to settle whether the plane suffered a mechanical failure, the theory which gets support from most aviation experts, or was the subject of a terrorist attack.

"Until you know the cause of the fire, anything is still possible," aviation expert Philip Baum told the Daily Telegraph.

Flight MS804 crashed in the Mediterranean en route from Paris to Cairo in May, killing all 66 on board. Human remains and wreckage have been recovered from the crash site but the victims' families are still waiting to hear what happened to their relatives.

Readings sent from the Boeing A320's on-board systems suggest there was smoke in the front toilet, while soot has been found on some of the wreckage recovered from the ocean.

Baum said a fire could have been caused by a technical fault or a bomb that exploded but did not blow the plane apart.

Forty Egyptians and 15 French people were killed in the crash, as well as passengers from Britain, Canada, Iraq, Algeria, Belgium, Chad, Sudan, Portugal and Saudi Arabia. No terror group has claimed responsibility.

The search vessel the John Lethbridge is heading to Alexandria to hand over human remains recovered from the bottom of the sea.

It is scheduled to return to the site to make further checks for any more potential remains.

Egyptian authorities are still working on the cockpit voice recorder and the second black box, which will reveal how the plane's systems were functioning before the crash.

EgyptAir flight MS804: Body parts recovered from wreckage

4 July

Human remains have been recovered from the wreckage of EgyptAir flight MS804, Egyptian authorities announced.

A search team on board the research vessel John Lethbridge mapped the location of several bodies on the sea floor at the crash site before beginning a recovery operation.

All of the remains have been successfully removed from the wreckage, said a statement from Egypt's Aircraft Accident Investigation Committee.

"The number of victims that can be identified by the retrieved body parts is still unclear," says CNN. Fifty-six passengers and ten crew members were travelling on board the French-manufactured Airbus A320 when it went missing.

The bodies are being taken to Alexandria to be examined by forensic experts, after which the John Lethbridge will return to the crash site to look for more remains.

Flight MS804 disappeared while travelling from Paris to Cairo on 19 May. Investigators discovered the crash site on the ocean floor between Crete and the Egyptian coast several weeks later.

While the cause of the crash is still unknown, data from the recently-recovered "black box" shows smoke alarms were activated in a toilet and beneath the cockpit. This, as well as soot found on parts of the wreckage, has led investigators to suspect there was a fire on board the plane in the moments before the crash.

The cockpit recorder, which is still being repaired by French investigators, could hold further clues to the flight's fate, the BBC reports.

While a terrorist attack has not been ruled out, no group has claimed responsibility for the crash and the evidence uncovered so far supports the theory that a technical failure was to blame.

Flight MS804: What was found on the EgyptAir black boxes?

30 June

A black box recording from crashed EgyptAir flight MS804 showed smoke alarms had sounded on board, according to an Egyptian-led investigative committee. Soot was also found on the wreckage.

"The recorded data on the device is consistent with messages of the plane’s Acars [aircraft communications addressing and reporting] system that indicate smoke in its toilet and avionics room," investigators said.

Their statement also said that wreckage retrieved from the front part of the jet pointed to damage caused by heat and intense smoke: "Parts of the front section of the aircraft showed signs of high temperature damage and soot."

The committee added: "A comprehensive analysis will be conducted to determine the source and causes of these indications."

The memory unit was retrieved from the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea and repaired in Paris before being analysed in Cairo. It contains detailed technical information on the flight, including its altitude and engine information, says The Independent.

Repair work of the cockpit voice recorder, the flight's second black box, has also begun.

The data will help determine the cause of the crash, which took place 180 miles north of the Egyptian coast, killing all 66 people on board.

Greek and Egyptian radar records show the French-manufactured Airbus A320, which was travelling from Paris to Cairo on 19 May, veered sharply to the left and then spun around to the right in the last minutes before crashing.

The pilots made no distress call and no terror group has claimed responsibility.

Wreckage from the crash was found on the sea floor between Crete and the Egyptian coast earlier this month.

EgyptAir flight MS804: Black box fixed, say investigators

28 June

The damaged flight data recorder from the EgyptAir plane that crashed last month has been successfully repaired, according to Egyptian investigators.

In a statement, Egypt's investigation commission said the "black box" had been "successfully repaired" by the French accident investigation agency laboratory.

The voice and flight data recorders were taken to Paris from Cairo so that salt deposits could be removed and will now be sent back to Egypt so the data can be analysed, reports the BBC.

France’s Investigation and Analysis Bureau (BEA), which took charge of repairing the memory units, notably extracted the data from the black boxes of Air France flight 447, which crashed between Rio de Janeiro and Paris in 2009, says The Guardian.

The paper adds that in those cases, the recorders were submerged for almost two years before being retrieved.

Flight MS804 plunged into the Mediterranean Sea on 19 May, en route from Paris to Cairo. All 66 people on board died.

French officials have announced they have opened a manslaughter investigation, saying there was no evidence to link the incident to terrorism.

Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office, said the inquiry was launched on Monday as an accident investigation. She added the French authorities did not believe that the plane had been brought down deliberately.

The reason for the plane's descent into the Mediterranean remains a mystery. Automated electronic messages sent by the plane revealed that smoke detectors went off in a toilet and in the avionics area below the cockpit just before the plane's signal was lost.

The pilots of the French-manufactured Airbus A320 made no distress call and no group or organisation has claimed responsibility.

Earlier this month, wreckage from the crash was found on the sea floor between Crete and the Egyptian coast.

EgyptAir flight MS804: Wreckage found in Mediterranean

16 June

Wreckage of EgyptAir flight MS804, which went missing over the Mediterranean in May, has been discovered, Egyptian authorities say.

The Airbus A320, with 66 people on board, vanished from radar while flying from Paris to Cairo.

"The investigation committee said that the John Lethbridge – one of two ships contracted by the Egyptians to hunt for the wreckage �� had found 'several main locations' on the sea floor between Crete and the Egyptian coast," The Guardian says.

A deep-sea search vessel has been dispatched, investigators say, and has sent back images of the wreckage. The search team will use the new information to "draw up a map of the wreckage distribution", the BBC reports.

The discovery comes more than two weeks after a second ship, the LaPlace, detected signals sent from flight MS804's "black box" flight data recorder. Investigators have only about nine more days before its locator beacon runs out of battery.

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