EgyptAir Flight Wreckage Turns Up in Mediterranean Sea, Authorities Suspect Terrorism
Search teams found debris from missing EgyptAir Flight MS804 off the coast of Alexandria, Egyptian military officials confirmed Friday.
Naval authorities searched tirelessly for remnants of the flight said to have spun out of control at 38,000 feet before plunging into the Mediterranean Sea. The navy said it found passengers’ personal belongings and wreckage floating 180 miles north of the Egyptian city.
“The searching, sweeping and the retrieval process is underway,” military spokesman Brig. Gen. Mohammad Samir said in a statement.
Sixty-six people were on board the flight from Paris to Cairo, scheduled to arrive in Cairo at 3:05 a.m. local time. EgyptAir confirmed the Airbus A320 departed Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris but disappeared from radar around 2:45 a.m.
CNN reports Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said Thursday the plane made a 90-degree turn to the left and a full 360-degree turn to the right before falling from 38,000 to 15,000 feet. The country’s air controllers repeatedly tried to make contact with pilots just before the aircraft was scheduled to exit Greek airspace. There was no response, according to Greece’s Aviation Authority.
The authority said the plane’s signal dropped from radar soon after entering Egyptian airspace.
Egyptian aviation officials and foreign governments have confirmed the citizenships of passengers on board include 30 Egyptians, 15 French citizens, two Iraqis, one Briton, one Kuwaiti, one Saudi, one Sudanese, one Chadian, one Portuguese, one Belgian, one Algerian and two Canadians. There were two children and one infant, according to BBC News. None of the flight’s passengers were American.
The Egyptian presidency and EgyptAir offered their condolences to the victims of the crash and loved ones left behind.
“The presidency, with utmost sadness and regret, mourns the victims aboard the EgyptAir flight who were killed after the plane crashed in the Mediterranean,” President Adbel Fattah al-Sisi said in a statement.
“EgyptAir sincerely conveys its deepest sorrow to the families and friends of the passengers on board Flight MS804,” the airline tweeted.
While there has been no confirmation as to the source of the crash, government officials have already begun to suspect terrorist activity.
Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi said the possibility of a terrorist attack was greater than any alternative.
“But if you analyze this situation properly, the possibility of having a different action aboard, of having a terror attack, is higher than having a technical problem,” he said.
The Associated Press reports a Russian official was especially blunt.
“In all likelihood it was a terror attack,” said Alexander Bortnikov, director of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation.
The security service said a homemade bomb took down a Russian airliner last October, killing all 224 people on board. The Metrojet plane crashed just minutes after departing from Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh airport. ISIS affiliates claimed responsibility for the crash, publishing a photo of what was said to be the makeshift explosive device in its propaganda magazine, Dabiq.
“After having discovered a way to compromise the security at the Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport and resolving to bring down a plane belonging to a nation in the American-led Western coalition against ISIS, the target was changed to a Russian plane,” the publication said, according to NBC News.
“A bomb was smuggled onto the airplane, leading to the deaths of 219 Russians and 5 other crusaders only a month after Russia’s thoughtless decision.”
The White House expressed condolences to families but was cautious to speculate on the cause of the incident.
“At this point, it’s too early to definitely say what may have caused this disaster,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest said to reporters. “Investigators will examine all of the potential factors that may have contributed to this tragedy.”
Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump was less careful to issue blame.
“Looks like yet another terrorist attack,” the candidate tweeted early Thursday morning. “Airplane departed from Paris. When will we get tough, smart and vigilant? Great hate and sickness!”
The tweet went out hours before any government authorities released statements on the origins of the accident.
Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton offered her opinion in an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo Thursday afternoon.
“It does appear that it was an act of terrorism, exactly how of course the investigation will have to determine. It once again shines a very bright light on the threats that we face from organized terror groups,” Clinton told Cuomo.
So far, Los Angeles International is the only major U.S. airport to increase security measures in response to the disaster.