French search vessel locates some wreckage of missing EgyptAir at sea

  • Agencies, Paris/Cairo
  • Updated: Jun 16, 2016 14:57 IST
A woman lights candles during a vigil for the victims of EgyptAir flight 804 inside Cairo Opera house, Egypt, in May 2016. The Airbus A320 which had been en route from Paris to Cairo disappeared on May 19, with the loss of all 66 people on board. (Reuters)

Search operations for the EgyptAir jet that went missing last month have discovered wreckage in the Mediterranean sea.

A French naval ship – the Laplace – detected one of the flight recorders last month after which an American vessel, the John Lethbridge, located and obtained images of the wreckage.

The discovery comes after investigators warned on Monday that signals from the plane’s black boxes would stop operating by the end of the month.

Read | A race against time: EgyptAir black boxes to stop emitting signals on June 24

The area of sea where it crashed is believed to be about 3,000 metres (10,000 feet) deep and its flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder should have had enough battery power to emit signals for four to five weeks.

The Paris-Cairo flight had crashed on May 19 between the Greek island of Crete and the Egyptian coast, killing all 66 people aboard. The cause of the crash remains unclear, although a terror attack has not been ruled out.

The route taken by the EgyptAir flight that crashed en route to Cairo on May 19. (AFP)

The Laplace will leave the operation now, having finished its mission in agreement with Egyptian authorities i.e., finding the signal using acoustic detection systems to listen for the “pings” emitted by the flight recorders, France’s aviation safety agency said.

The agency further said the aircraft transmitted automated messages indicating smoke in the cabin and a fault in the flight control unit minutes before disappearing from radar screens.

Investigators were able to narrow down the search site thanks to an emergency signal sent via satellite by the plane’s locator transmitter when it hit the Mediterranean.

Among the wreckage are pieces that make up the cabin.

On board were 30 Egyptians, 15 French citizens, two Iraqis, two Canadians, and citizens from Algeria, Belgium, Britain, Chad, Portugal, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. They included a boy and two babies.

Seven crew and three security personnel were also on board.

The crash occurred after the bombing of a Russian airliner over Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula last October that killed all 224 people on board.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for that attack within hours, but there has been no such claim linked to the EgyptAir crash.

IS has been waging a deadly insurgency against Egyptian security forces and has claimed attacks in both France and Egypt.

Some wreckage was retrieved from the Mediterranean last month, along with belongings of passengers on board flight MS804, but no bodies have been found so far.

The plane crashed between the Greek island of Crete and the Egyptian coast after disappearing suddenly from radar screens.

In October, foreign governments issued travel warnings for Egypt and demanded a review of security at its airports after IS said it downed the Russian airliner over Sinai with a bomb concealed in a soda can that had been smuggled on the plane.

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