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Egypt releases pictures of plane wreckage

Darko Janjevic (AFP, Reuters)May 21, 2016

The Egyptian military has published the first images of debris and passenger belongings from crashed EgyptAir flight 804. The search is ongoing to locate flight recorders from the lost plane north of Alexandria.

EgyptAir MS804 Wrackteil
Image: picture-alliance/abaca

An army spokesman posted several pictures of plane remains online on Saturday, a day after the rescuers found wreckage of flight MS804 in the Mediterranean.

The images include parts of an airplane seat, a yellow lifejacket and several items of luggage.

The plane went down on Thursday on its way from Paris to Cairo with 66 people on board. Officials are still attempting to determine if the Airbus A320 crash was caused by technical fault or an act of terrorism.

So far, the investigators have discovered that the plane's automated systems detected fire in the aircraft's lavatory and then in the avionics bay under the cockpit minutes before the transmission broke off.

The authorities are focusing on finding the passengers' bodies and the two flight recorders, EgyptAir Holding Company chairman Safwat Moslem told the AFP news agency.

"The families want the bodies. That is what concerns us. The army is working on this. This is what we are focusing on," he said.

While flight recorders were designed to survive plane crashes, their batteries would run out after one month, leaving the search teams without a guiding signal.

EgyptAir MS804 Wrackteil
Authorities posted the first images of debris from the doomed flight on SaturdayImage: picture-alliance/abaca

Relatives of the passengers were gathered in a hotel near Cairo to await news of the disaster.

"They haven't died yet. No one knows. We're asking for God's mercy," said a woman whose daughter had been on board.

Search teams were combing the area north of Egypt's coast with a radius of 40 miles (64 kilometers), EgyptAir chairman Moslem told state television. The area might be expanded in the future.

EgyptAir MS804 Wrackteil
The search is continuing for the plane's two flight recordersImage: picture-alliance/abaca

The crash of MS804 marks a third aviation incident related to Egypt in the past few months. A suspected terror bombing destroyed a Russian jet in October last year and a hijacker redirected a domestic EgyptAir flight to Cyprus in March.

Although the "Islamic State" group immediately claimed responsibility for the downing of the Russian plane in October, there has not yet been a similar claim connected with the MS804 crash.