EgyptAir debris 'found off Greek island'

EgyptAir debris 'found off Greek island'
Greek authorities have confirmed sighting debris, believed to be from the missing EgyptAir plane that disappeared in the early hours of Thursday.
3 min read
19 May, 2016

Debris found

Debris has been found in the southern Mediterranean as rescue and salvage experts hunt for traces of the Egyptian aircraft which went missing on Thursday morning.

Pieces of red-and-white plastic, and "orange-coloured objects" were spotted by Greek naval vessels around 230 miles south of Crete, officials have revealed.

"We found it - lifejacket and a seat from the airplane," wrote Tarek Wahba, the captain of a container ship involved in the search, on Facebook.

There was no official confirmation of the find, and analysts point out that the refugee crisis of recent months and years has left the southern Mediterranean littered with lifejackets and wreckage from damaged boats.

An international search-and-rescue operation has been underway since shortly after the Egyptian aircraft's disappearance.

Egyptian coastguard and Greek navy vessels have been despatched to the area in which flight MS804, bound for Cairo having departed from Paris, is thought to have crashed.

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The waters around the Greek island of Karpathos are understood to be the focus of the search for debris and any possible survivors.

"The information that we have been able to gather - the prime minister, the members of the government, and of course the Egyptian authorities - unfortunately confirm for us that this plane crashed at sea and has been lost," French President Francois Hollande told reporters after speaking with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Sherif Fathy, Egypt's minister of aviation, urged caution.

"I will not use the term 'crash' until I find wreckage," he said on Thursday morning. "The probability of a crash could be high. But as a professional, I'm choosing my words carefully."

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The flight departed Paris at 2109GMT on Wednesday, and was last in radar contact with EgyptAir a little more than three hours later, at 0030GMT, when the plane was around 175 miles from the Egyptian coast.

A Greek C-130 Hercules military plane was despatched to the area within 45 minutes, officials have reported. A further aircraft, along with a navy frigate and two rescue helicopters, were also later deployed by Athens.

Two hours after the plane last made radar contact, it is understood to have emitted a signal - though it remains unclear whether this was an automated distress beacon, or a signal from a crew member.

"We are looking everywhere on land and at sea," said Mohamed Samir, a spokesperson for the Egyptian military, which has also deployed aircraft and naval vessels.