Traces of explosives found on debris
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.
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.