Reports suggest the Cairo-bound EgyptAir flight MS804 that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea was likely brought down by a bomb. However, the possibility of a technical fault was not ruled out.
EgyptAir early on Friday morning corrected an earlier assessment of debris found in the Mediterranean, telling the CNN news network that it was not from the crash of the Airbus A320.
Greek officials had said on Thursday morning that two life vests had been found floating in the Mediterranean Sea some 230 miles (370km) south of Crete.
"We stand corrected on finding the wreckage because what we identified is not a part of our plane. So the search and rescue is still going on," airline Vice Chairman Ahmed Adel said.
"The Egyptian Ministry of Civil Aviation has received an official letter from the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs that confirms the finding of the wreckage of the missing aircraft No. MS 804," EgyptAir said on its Twitter account. "The Egyptian Investigation Team, in cooperation with the Greek counterpart, are still searching for other remains of the missing plane."
All 66 people aboard died on the overnight Paris-to-Cairo flight, which lost radar contact after 3 a.m. local time in Egypt (0100 UTC).
Greek defence minister, Panos Kammenos, said the plane made "sudden swerves" in mid-air and plunged before dropping off radar in the southern Mediterranean, falling from 37,000 feet (11,000 meters) to 15,000 feet before the signal was lost at around 10,000 feet.
The Airbus A320 was carrying 66 people, including 30 Egyptians and 15 French citizens.
Cause unknown but terror 'likely'
The cause of the apparent crash is unknown. Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy said a technical failure and terror were possible explanations, but that a terror attack seemed more "likely" than technical failure. Neither can be ruled out, he added.
A US official told the German press agency dpa that at this early stage there was no evidence suggesting there was an explosion, but it was too early to rule anything out.
Russian officials also said an attack seemed likely.
The head of Russia's top domestic security agency, Alexander Bortnikov, said of EgyptAir flight MS804 that "in all likelihood it was a terror attack."
Moscow banned all flights to Egypt in November after a Russian passenger plane was downed over Egypt's Sinai region
Other governments have urged patience, as investigations are still pending.
Egyptian security officials say they are running background checks on the passengers to see if any had links to extremists.
Meanwhile, the US Navy has deployed a long range P-3 Orion surveillance plane to help search for the wreckage of the flight.
Greek transport aircraft is to remain in the area.
Egypt leads investigation
Egypt will lead the official committee investigating the disappearance, according to Ayman al-Moqadem, the head of Egypt's Air Accidents Investigation department.
The committee will also include France, which is both the manufacturing home for the Airbus 320, and the country with the second-largest number of victims (15) on board.
Both Egypt and France have been victims of terrorist attacks carried out by Islamist extremists in the past year.
France agrees close cooperation
French President Francois Hollande held an emergency meeting at the Elysee Palace. He also spoke with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi by telephone.
The two men agreed to "closely cooperate to establish as soon as possible the circumstances" surrounding the disaster, according to a statement.
In Cairo, former general el-Sissi convened an emergency meeting of the National Security Council, the country's highest security body. It includes the defense, foreign and interior ministers, in addition to the chiefs of the intelligence agencies.
Trusted global airliner
The A320 has an excellent safety record and is the best-selling medium-range airliner in the world; with one taking off or landing every 30 seconds.
Jean-Paul Troadec, former director of France's aviation Bureau of Investigation and Analysis, agreed, during an interview with Europe 1 radio.
"It's a modern plane, the incident happened in mid-flight in extremely stable conditions," he said. "The quality of the maintenance and the quality of the plane are not in question in this incident."
jbh/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)