UPDATES WITH EGYPTAIR STATEMENT CONFIRMING WRECKAGE OF PLANE FOUND NEAR GREEK ISLAND
CAIRO, ATHENS (AA) - Aircraft debris found near the Greek island of Karpathos late Thursday belongs to missing EgyptAir flight MS804, the Egyptian authorities have confirmed.
In a statement posted online, EgyptAir said an official letter from the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had confirmed the origin of the wreckage.
The company said family members of passengers and crew had been already informed.
“Meanwhile, the Egyptian Investigation Team, in co-operation with its Greek counterpart, is still searching for other remains of the missing plane,” the statement added.
Greek broadcaster ERT reported earlier that two orange-colored objects had been discovered by Egyptian airplanes taking part in the search for MS804.
An EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo with 66 people on board went missing over the eastern Mediterranean on Thursday morning after it entered Egyptian airspace, the airline had said earlier.
In a series of posts made on its official Twitter account, EgyptAir said flight MS804, which included 56 passengers, seven crew members and three security personnel, lost contact with its radar system in the early morning hours.
The company tweeted that the Airbus A320 was at 37,000 feet and disappeared after entering 10 miles inside Egyptian airspace.
According to the airline, there were 30 Egyptians, 15 French, two Iraqis, one British, one Belgian, one Portuguese, one Algerian, one Chadian, one Canadian, one Sudanese, one Kuwaiti and one Saudi citizen aboard.
Addressing a news conference in Cairo, Egyptian Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi said the authorities would not rule out the possibility that either a terror act or a technical mishap was behind the incident.
He insisted that it is too early to speak about the causes of the plane's disappearance until search efforts are completed.
The Egyptian military said that aircraft and naval vessels have been dispatched to the area where the plane disappeared.
French President Francois Hollande said that information showed the Egyptian plane had crashed.
“Unfortunately the information we have ... confirms to us that the plane came down and is lost,” Hollande said. “No hypothesis can be ruled out, nor can any be favored over another.”
The Greek Civil Aviation Authority said air traffic controllers had tried to contact the plane before it moved into Egyptian airspace, but received no reply.
In a statement, the Greek body said: “At 3:27 a.m. the Athens Control Centre made an attempt to contact the aircraft ... Despite the repeated calls, the aircraft did not respond, so the air traffic controller called the hazard frequency, with no response from the aircraft.”
Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said the missing plane made “sudden swerves” as it flew at 37,000 feet.
He said data show the stricken plane made a 90 degree left-hand turn then spiraled 360 degrees to the right as it dropped 22,000 feet.
Meanwhile, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told RTL channel that his country was in close contact with Egyptian civilian and military officials.
"Egypt sent exploration planes to the area. France is ready to provide every kind of assistance to Egypt," Valls said.
In Oct. 2015, a passenger plane went down as it left Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, killing all 224 people aboard, mostly Russian tourists. A Daesh affiliate had claimed responsibility for the incident.
Although Russia said the plane was brought down by a bomb, Egyptian authorities insisted that the investigation into the October accident was still ongoing.
In February, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi admitted that the plane was brought down by terrorists seeking to damage the country’s tourism industry and relations with Russia.
In March, an Egyptian national briefly hijacked an EgyptAir plane and forced it to land on the island of Cyprus.
*Anadolu Agency correspondent Magda Panoutsopoulou contributed to this report from Athens.