Smoke aboard, Egyp­tAir jet sent warn­ings be­fore crash

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE -

Paris/ Cairo: The Egyp­tAir jet which crashed in the Mediter­ranean on Thurs­day sent a se­ries of warn­ings in­di­cat­ing that smoke had been de­tected on board, shortly be­fore it dis­ap­peared off radar screens, French in­ves­ti­ga­tors said on Satur­day.

A spokesman for France’s BEA air ac­ci­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion agency said the sig­nals did not in­di­cate what caused the smoke or fire on board the plane, which plunged into the sea with 66 peo­ple on board as it was head­ing from Paris to Cairo.

But they of­fered the first clues as to what un­folded in the mo­ments be­fore the crash.

One avi­a­tion source said that a fire on board would likely have gen­er­ated mul­ti­ple warn­ing sig­nals, while a sud­den ex­plo­sion may not have gen­er­ated any – though of­fi­cials stress that no sce­nario, in­clud­ing ex­plo­sion, is be­ing ruled out.

Egypt said its navy had found hu- man re­mains, wreck­age and the per­sonal be­long­ings of pas­sen­gers float­ing in the Mediter­ranean about 290 km north of Alexan­dria.

The army pub­lished pic­tures on Satur­day on its of­fi­cial Face­book page of the re­cov­ered items, which in­cluded blue and white de­bris with Egyp­tAir mark­ings, seat fab­ric with de­signs in the air­line’s colours, and a yel­low life jacket.

Anal­y­sis of the de­bris and re­cov­ery of the plane’s twin flight recorders are likely to be key to de­ter­min­ing the cause of the crash – the third blow since Oc­to­ber to Egypt’s travel in­dus­try, still reel­ing from po­lit­i­cal un­rest fol­low­ing the 2011 up­ris­ing that ousted Hosni Mubarak.

A sus­pected Is­lamic State bomb­ing brought down a Rus­sian air­liner af­ter it took off from Sharm elSheikh air­port in late Oc­to­ber, killing all 224 on board, and an Egyp­tAir plane was hi­jacked in March by a man wear­ing a fake sui­cide belt.

The sig­nals from the plane “do not al­low in any way to say what may have caused smoke or fire on board the air­craft,” said a spokesman for the French BEA agency, which is as­sist­ing an of­fi­cial Egyp­tian in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

He added that the pri­or­ity now was to find the two flight recorders, known as black boxes, con­tain­ing cock­pit voice record­ings and data read­ings, from the Air­bus A320 which van­ished from radar early on Thurs­day.

Iftikhar. gi­lani@ dnain­dia. net cor­re­spon­dent@ dnain­dia. net — AFP cor­re­spon­dent@ dnain­dia. net shekhar. luthra@ dnain­dia. net — Reuters ri­tika. jain@ dnain­dia. net

Rel­a­tives and friends of Egyp­tAir host­ess Yara Hani, who was on­board the ill­fated jet, mourn dur­ing a cer­e­mony at a church in Cairo on Satur­day.

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