- Aviation officials said there is a strong indication that the plane’s crash may have been caused by terror attack
- However, the US government cautioned against ruling out any other possibilities this early
- The floating debris found by the search team near the Greek island turned out to be not coming from the aircraft
Egyptian aviation officials have suspected terrorism as the more likely cause of the EgyptAir Flight 804’s disappearance rather than technical malfunction; even as investigators have yet to find any indication of an alleged midair explosion as earlier reported by the Greek Merchant Navy.
Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi raised the possibility of a terror attack as stronger than that of a mechanical failure; a suspicion shared by the United States government.
However, US officials have cautioned against ruling out other possibilities; with the search operation still trying to look for evidence to suggest an internal blast as the cause of the aircraft’s crash.
“I’m not aware of any sensors that the U.S. military has or deploys — air or maritime — that picked anything up on this,” CNN has quoted State Department Spokesman John Kirby as telling reporters on Thursday.
Kirby said he is not aware of any imageries, audio or any other electronic transmissions that would lead them to have any greater clarity about what really happened.
Flight 804 departed from Paris to Cairo at 11:09 pm (local time) Wednesday with 66 people onboard including 56 passengers and 10 crew members. The airline management said it lost contact with the plane at 2:30 am (local time) around 16 kilometers (10 miles) inside Egyptian airspace while traveling at an altitude of 37,000 feet.
Greek defense minister Panos Kammeno revealed the plane made a 90-degree turn before dropping from 37,000 feet to 15,000 feet and swerved 360 degrees to the right based.
The Egyptian Navy has joined forces with Greek and US counterparts to search for any debris in the Mediterranean Sea where the ill-fated flight is presumed to have crashed based on the signal – believed to have come from the aircraft’s local transmitter – which the ground control received around 4:26 am (local time).
The ‘floating debris’ earlier reported to have been found by the search crew near the island of Karpathos, east of Crete turned out to be not coming from the missing Airbus A320. The Egyptian government has since apologized for the false report.
“An assessment of the finds showed that they do not belong to an aircraft,” Greece’s Air Accident Investigation and Aviation Safety Board chief Athanassios Binis told the media late Thursday.
Among the passengers onboard are 30 Egyptians, 15 French, 2 Iraqis, and one citizen each from the UK, Belgium, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Chad, Portugal, Algeria and Canada, including two babies and one child.
EgyptAir said in a statement it has already informed the families of the passengers and the crew members and has “extended their deepest sympathies to those affected.”
The search operation is still underway in the Mediterranean, but no sightings of wreckage has been confirmed so far as of Friday morning, May 20.