Body Part, Bags, Plane Seats Found: Greek Defence Minister

Egypt’s military has spotted a body part, seats and suitcases in the Mediterranean Sea in the area where EgyptAir flight MS804 disappeared from radar, Greece’s defence minister has said.

Panos Kammenos told a news conference: “We were informed (by Egyptian authorities) that a body part, two seats and one or more items of luggage just south of where the aircraft signal was lost.”

Earlier, Egypt’s armed forces spokesman Brigadier General Mohammed Samir said that passengers’ belongings were among items found by a navy vessel and aircraft sweeping the area in the hunt for the black box of the Airbus A320.

The debris was believed to include parts of the missing plane and was found 290km (180 miles) from the Egyptian city of Alexandria.

The Brigadier General added that the “part of the wreckage” had been salvaged.

It will be analysed by British, French and Egyptian investigators, and an expert from Airbus, airport officials said.

Earlier, three British investigators joined three French colleagues and the expert from Airbus in Cairo.

Egyptair said on Twitter that radar contact with the plane was lost around 295km from the Egyptian coastline.

The flight had left Paris at 10.09pm BST on Wednesday but vanished at 1.30am BST, just over three hours into its four-hour journey towards Cairo.

France’s foreign minister told French media on Friday morning there was “absolutely no indication” what brought down the flight despite the Egyptian authorities saying terrorism was the most likely cause.

Jean-Marc Ayrault said the French government was looking at “all possibilities” into what caused the jet to disappear from radar screens over the Mediterranean.

Junior minister for transport, Alain Vidalies, added on France-Info radio that “no theory was favoured” and urged “the greatest caution.”

On Thursday, Egypt’s Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi said that while the disaster was still under investigation, the possibility it was a terror attack was “higher than the possibility of having a technical failure.”

Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah el Sisi offered his condolences to the families of those on board when the plane came down.

Briton Richard Osman, 40, was among 56 passengers and 10 crew travelling on the Airbus at the time.

The captain has been identified as Mohamed Said Shoukair, the co-pilot as Mohamed Mamdouh Assem, and three of the air stewards as Yara Hany Tawfik, Samar Ezz Eldin and Mervat Zakaria.

As well as Egyptian military, boats and planes from Greece, France, Cyprus and Italy also taking part, according to Le Monde.

The UK has sent RFA Lyme Bay, which had been near Crete, and a C130 Hercules from RAF Akrotiri.

The deputy chairman of EgyptAir said maintenance checks were carried out on the Airbus on Thursday before it flew and “No problems have been reported”, French newspaper L’Express reported.

Greek defence minister Panos Kammenos said the aircraft was in Egyptian airspace and flying at 37,000ft when it made “sudden swerves” and plunged to 15,000ft.

He said it swerved “90 degrees left and then 360 degrees to the right” before vanishing.

Military search and rescue teams picked up an automated signal from the plane’s emergency beacon at 3.26am BST – about 80 minutes after it was supposed to land in Cairo. It is thought this may have been triggered on impact.

But the Egyptian authorities said no distress signal had been sent, despite earlier suggestions.

The search will focus on the hunt for the plane’s black boxes, which emit a small signal for several weeks after a plane crashes.

Source: National News Agency