‘Explosion downed EgyptAir flight 804’
Government agency refutes expert’s claim
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.