EgyptAir crash: Wreckage found in Mediterranean

image copyrightAFP
image captionSixty-six people died when the plane crashed into the Mediterranean

Wreckage of the EgyptAir flight that went missing over the Mediterranean last month has been found, Egyptian investigators say.

A statement said "several main locations of the wreckage" had been identified.

A deep sea search vessel had also sent back the first images of the wreckage, the statement added.

There were 66 people on board flight MS804 when it crashed on 19 May while flying from Paris to Cairo.

The Airbus A320 plane vanished from Greek and Egyptian radar screens, apparently without having sent a distress call.

The Egyptian investigation committee said that investigators on board the John Lethbridge search vessel, which has been contracted by the Egyptian government, would now draw up a map of the wreckage distribution.

What happens next, by Richard Westcott, BBC Transport Correspondent @bbcwestcott

Investigators will begin with something they call "the four corners". It means that, before touching anything, they will map exactly where every single piece of the aircraft ended up.

If debris is spread over a large area it tells them the plane broke up in mid-air. If it is more intact, it suggests it hit the water then broke up.

They will also look for what is missing. If, for example, an engine or the tail is two miles away, it clearly broke off earlier in the flight.

The little evidence so far suggests a fire broke out in the front of the aircraft, so they will be keen to film and photograph that area. One experienced investigator who worked on the Lockerbie bombing told me bomb damage looks very different to fire damage.

Ultimately, investigators will probably have to retrieve wreckage to know for sure what brought this plane down. And that could take weeks, even months.

Earlier this month, search teams said signals from one of the "black box" flight recorders had been detected.

Finding them is crucial to understanding what caused the plane to go down, Airbus said. The plane maker said photos of wreckage did not tell investigators much.

Experts have warned that signals emitted by the recorders are expected to expire by 24 June, but a source close to the search told AFP news agency that the John Lethbridge is capable of locating them even without those signals.

The cause of the crash remains unknown.

image copyrightEPA
image captionSearch efforts have involved the use of deep sea diving robots

A terror attack has not been ruled out but no extremist group has claimed the downing of the plane.

Analysts say human or technical error is also a possibility. Electronic messages sent by the plane revealed that smoke detectors went off in the toilet and the aircraft's electrics, minutes before the plane's signal was lost.

According to Greek investigators, the plane turned 90 degrees left and then 360 degrees to the right, dropping from 11,300m (37,000ft) to 4,600m (15,000ft) and then 3,000m (9,800ft) before it was lost from radar.

What do we know so far?

  • EgyptAir Flight MS804 vanished over the eastern Mediterranean early on Thursday 19 May with 66 passengers and crew on board
  • Some surface debris was found 290km (180 miles) north of the Egyptian city of Alexandria
  • Signals from the plane indicated that smoke was detected in the toilet and in the avionics area below the cockpit
  • Search area is one of the deepest parts of the Mediterranean - more than 3,000 metres (9,800ft) deep in places

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