‘Ex­plo­sion downed EgyptAir flight 804’

Gov­ern­ment agency re­futes ex­pert’s claim

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By 7DAYS News Team @7DAYSUAE

Hu­man re­mains re­trieved from the crash site of EgyptAir Flight 804 have burn marks, sug­gest­ing an ex­plo­sion on board may have downed the air­craft in the east Mediter­ranean, a se­nior Egyp­tian foren­sics of­fi­cial has said.

The of­fi­cial, who is part of the Egyp­tian team in­ves­ti­gat­ing the crash that killed all 66 peo­ple on board the flight from Paris to Cairo early last Thurs­day, has per­son­ally ex­am­ined the re­mains at a Cairo morgue.

“The log­i­cal ex­pla­na­tion is that an ex­plo­sion brought it down,” he of­fi­cial told The As­so­ci­ated Press.

How­ever, the head of the gov­ern­ment’s foren­sic agency later yes­ter­day dis­missed as spec­u­la­tion all re­ports about hu­man re­mains from the crash in­di­cat­ing an ex­plo­sion.

“What­ever has been pub­lished is base­less and mere as­sump­tions,” Hisham Ab­del-Hamid told Egypt’s state MENA news agency.

The gov­ern­ment’s in­ves­tiga­tive com­mit­tee is­sued a state­ment warn­ing against “spread­ing false ru­mours and dam­ag­ing the state’s high in­ter­ests and na­tional se­cu­rity”.

The Egyp­tian ex­pert told the AP that all 80 pieces that have been brought to Cairo so far are very small.

“There isn’t even a whole body part, like an arm or a head,” said the of­fi­cial, adding that one piece was the left part of a head.

He said the body parts are “so tiny” and that at least one piece of a hu­man arm has signs of burns - an in­di­ca­tion it might have “be­longed to a pas­sen­ger sit­ting next to the ex­plo­sion”.

“But I can­not say what caused the blast,” he said.

The ex­pert’s com­ments mark a dra­matic new twist sur­round­ing last week’s crash, which still re­mains a mys­tery. The plane’s black boxes have yet to be found.

Egyp­tian of­fi­cials have said they be­lieve ter­ror­ism is a more likely ex­pla­na­tion than equip­ment fail­ure, or some other cat­a­strophic event, and some avi­a­tion ex­perts have said the er­ratic flight re­ported by the Greek de­fence min­is­ter sug­gests a bomb blast or a strug­gle in the cock­pit. But so far no hard ev­i­dence has emerged on the cause of the dis­as­ter. Also yes­ter­day, the in­ves­tiga­tive team led by Ay­man Al Mo­qa­dem is­sued its sec­ond re­port on the case, say­ing that so far pieces of the plane wreck­age have been taken to Cairo in 18 batches. It added that the pri­or­ity is to lo­cate the black boxes and to re­trieve more bod­ies. France’s avi­a­tion ac­ci­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion agency would not com­ment on any­thing in­volv­ing the bod­ies or say whether any in­for­ma­tion has sur­faced in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion to in­di­cate an ex­plo­sion. A French pa­trol boat took one doc­tor on board to help with searches when and if the body parts are found. But the French Navy said that if it finds de­bris and body parts, this would be first re­ported to Egyp­tian au­thor­i­ties and French jus­tice of­fi­cials. In a search for clues, fam­ily mem­bers of the vic­tims yes­ter­day be­gan ar­riv­ing at the Cairo morgue foren­sics’ de­part­ment to give DNA sam­ples to help iden­tify the re­mains of their kin, a se­cu­rity of­fi­cial said. Also, a tech­ni­cal team from Egypt’s foren­sic medicine de­part­ment went to a ho­tel near the Cairo In­ter­na­tional Air­port where rel­a­tives of the vic­tims are gath­ered to take DNA sam­ples to use in iden­ti­fy­ing the bod­ies.

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