Hunt for black box after missing EgyptAir plane debris discovered

Authorities say they have spotted a body part, two seats and suitcases in the search for the missing EgyptAir plane

Friday, 20th May 2016, 3:36 pm
Updated Friday, 20th May 2016, 4:46 pm
A frosted glass partition is seen at the EgyptAir counter at Charles de Gaulle Airport outside Paris, France.

Greek defence minister Panos Kammenos said the items were found in the search area in the Mediterranean, slightly to the south of where the aircraft vanished from radar signals early on Thursday.He said the location was slightly north of where other debris was found on Thursday afternoon but authorities had been unable to identify that as having come from the missing Airbus A320.EgyptAir flight 804 crashed while carrying 66 passengers and crew from Paris to Cairo.A team of Egyptian investigators led by Ayman el-Mokadam - along with French and British teams and an expert from Airbus - will inspect what has been found, Egyptian officials said. The plane fell off the radar at 2.45am local time on Thursday morning while it was crossing the Mediterranean.The office of Egypt's president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, issued a statement expressing its condolences to the relatives of the 66 killed. It said the presidency "expressed its deep regret and sadness for the victims"."God give great mercy and host them in his heaven," it added.The statement marked the first official recognition by Egypt's government that the missing plane has crashed.France, Greece, Italy, Cyprus and the UK have all joined the Egyptian search effort, Egypt's defence ministry said. Authorities had been scouring a wide area south of the Greek island of Crete.It is not yet known what caused the crash.Mr Kammenos said the plane swerved wildly before plummeting into the sea.The Egyptian military said that no distress call was received from the pilot, and aviation minister Sherif Fathi said the likelihood the plane was brought down by a terror attack is "higher than the possibility of a technical failure".But French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on France-2 television there was "absolutely no indication" of what caused the crash.The junior minister for transport, Alain Vidalies, said on France-Info radio that "no theory is favoured" at this stage and urged "the greatest caution".mfl

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The Briton on board, Richard Osman, a father of two, was described by his younger brother Alastair as a workaholic and a very admirable person who “never deviated from the straight path”.On Thursday, EgyptAir reported that wreckage from the plane, including life jackets, had been found near the Greek island of Karpathos by the Greek authorities.But EgyptAir’s vice chairman Ahmed Adel later told CNN that the items were not from flight MS804.He said: “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.”A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said the Royal Fleet Auxiliary landing ship Lyme Bay and an RAF C130 Hercules aircraft had joined the search efforts.Before it disappeared from radar screens around 2.45am Cairo time (12.45am GMT), the plane spun all the way around and suddenly lost altitude.Egyptian and Russian officials said it may have been brought down by terrorists, and there are no signs of survivors.An Australian government official said one of the passengers on the missing flight held dual Australian-British nationality.Foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop did not give any more details, including whether or not the passenger referred to was Mr Osman - so far the only Briton identified as being on board.She said on Friday: “We are working closely with UK authorities, which are taking the lead in the provision of consular assistance to the man’s family.”Alastair Osman told ITV News: “Richard has two kids. Richard was a very kind person, loving person, very focused. He was a workaholic and never deviated from the straight path.“A very admirable person and a lot of people admired him for his strength and values. He’s a new dad. A dad for the second time now and I know that would have filled him with love and joy. It’s funny how quickly things change.”Egyptian and Greek authorities in ships and planes searched the suspected crash area throughout the day for traces of the airliner or its victims, with more help on the way from the US, Britain and France.Civil aviation minister Sherif Fathi said the disaster was still being investigated but the possibility it was a terror attack “is higher than the possibility of having a technical failure”.Alexander Bortnikov, chief of Russia’s top domestic security agency, said: “In all likelihood it was a terror attack.”Asked about why Mr Osman was on the flight, his brother told the news programme: “He would have been going to work I assume. I know he works in both Egypt and another country in Africa.“I guess it was work related. He’s been doing this for years in the gold mining industry. This was a regular trip. He used to do it at least once a month, year after year.”Alastair Osman, who said the family of four were all born in Carmarthen, added: “This is the reality of Isis and groups like that. It’s indiscriminate. They don’t think any of these people have family members, or a past, or a history of hopes and dreams. It’s indiscriminate.”According to the Carmarthen Journal, Mr Osman is 40 and a former pupil at QE Cambria with family in the Swansea area.The newspaper said he was the son of the late Fekri Osman, a founder of the Werndale private hospital in Bancyfelin.His father moved to Wales from his native Egypt to work as a consultant in ear, nose and throat surgery in Singleton Hospital, Swansea, it said.The Journal added that Mr Osman was a qualified geologist and worked for exploration and research companies which involved him travelling widely around the world.Among those on board were a child and two babies, EgyptAir said. The airline said the 56 passengers included 30 Egyptians, 15 French, two Iraqis and one each from Britain, Sudan, Chad, Portugal, Algeria, Canada, Belgium, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.The Airbus A320 was built in 2003 and was flying at 37,000ft, the airline said on Twitter.It tweeted that the pilot had logged 6,275 flying hours, including 2,101 hours on the A320, and the co-pilot had logged 2,766 hours.There was confusion over whether a distress signal had been sent by the Airbus A320.Egypt’s civil aviation authority said one was received at 4.26am local time, believed to be an automated message rather than one sent by the pilot.But in a statement on its website, the Egyptian military said later it had received no distress message from the aircraft .Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the Foreign Office was in close contact with Egyptian and French authorities and said that staff were suppporting the family of a British passport holder who boarded the flight in Paris.Meanwhile, French president Francois Hollande held an emergency meeting at the Elysee Palace.He also spoke to Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi by telephone and agreed to “closely co-operate to establish as soon as possible the circumstances” surrounding the disaster”.

A frosted glass partition is seen at the EgyptAir counter at Charles de Gaulle Airport outside Paris, France.
A frosted glass partition is seen at the EgyptAir counter at Charles de Gaulle Airport outside Paris, France.