Traces of ex­plo­sives found on de­bris

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By REUTERS in Cairo and Paris

Egyp­tian in­ves­ti­ga­tors said on Thurs­day traces of ex­plo­sives had been found on the re­mains of vic­tims of an Egyp­tair flight that crashed en route from Paris to Cairo, but French of­fi­cials warned against draw­ing con­clu­sions on the cause of the crash.

Egyp­tair flight MS804 plunged into one of the deep­est parts of the Mediter­ranean Sea on May 19, killing all 66 peo­ple on board.

Egypt’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion com­mit­tee is­sued a state­ment say­ing the coro­ner had found traces of ex­plo­sives on the re­mains of some vic­tims. It gave no more de­tails but said its find­ings were sent to prose­cu­tors.

“The tech­ni­cal in­ves­ti­ga­tion com­mit­tee ... places it­self and its ex­per­tise at the dis­posal of prose­cu­tors,” it said.

A ju­di­cial source said the pros­e­cu­tion had not re­ceived de­tails about the ex­plo­sives traces but would in­clude the coro­ner’s find­ings in its in­quiries.

An Egyp­tian source fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said Egypt had in­formed France months ago about its find­ings but French in­ves­ti­ga­tors had re­quested more time to study them.

“That is why it took so long to make an an­nounce­ment,” the source said, de­clin­ing to be named as the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is con­tin­u­ing.

Cause un­known

Paris news­pa­per Le Fi­garo re­ported in Septem­ber that French in­ves­ti­ga­tors had seen traces of TNT on the plane’s de­bris but were pre­vented from fur­ther ex­am­in­ing it. Egyp­tian of­fi­cials de­nied at the time ob­struct­ing French in­quiries.

France’s For­eign Min­istry said the cause is still be­ing in­ves­ti­gated and ap­peared to hint it had been kept at arm’s length.

“France, like it has been from the be­gin­ning of this tragic ac­ci­dent, re­mains at the dis­posal of the rel­e­vant Egyp­tian au­thor­i­ties to con­trib­ute to this in­ves­ti­ga­tion, in­clud­ing with the means of its ex­perts,” it said.

In a rare state­ment on an on­go­ing for­eign in­ves­ti­ga­tion, France’s BEA air crash in­ves­ti­ga­tion agency said on Thurs­day no con­clu­sions could be drawn on what might have caused the crash.

“In the ab­sence of de­tailed in­for­ma­tion on the con­di­tions and ways in which sam­ples were taken lead­ing to the de­tec­tion of traces of ex­plo­sives, the BEA con­sid­ers that it is not pos­si­ble at this stage to draw con­clu­sions on the ori­gin of the ac­ci­dent,” a spokes­woman said.

The BEA is ac­cred­ited to the Egyp­tian-led in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­cause the Air­bus air­craft was de­signed and built in France.

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