Cairo- Egyptian authorities have not ruled out the possibility of a terrorist attack in the crash of an EgyptAir jetliner, which was en route from Paris to Cairo with 66 people aboard, in the Mediterranean Sea.
Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said it was too early to rule out any explanation for the crash as Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi cautioned that the disaster was still under investigation but said the possibility it was a terror attack “is higher than the possibility of having a technical failure.”
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi stressed the importance of cooperating with France and Greece to investigate the causes of the plane’s disappearance.
EgyptAir said it received a memo from the Foreign Ministry informing it that the Greek authorities claimed to have found debris that could belong to the plane.
A company spokesman told Asharq Al-Awsat that EgyptAir “is cooperating with the Greek authorities to identify the debris.”
Egypt’s Ambassador to Paris Ehab Badawy told BFM TV network the Egyptian Embassy in Athens informed him that officials in Greece provided it with information regarding finding debris in blue and white colors.
“I can’t confirm it is the debris, but it would be reasonable to think it is the debris of this plane,” he said.
EgyptAir Flight 804, an Airbus A320 with 56 passengers and 10 crew members, went down about halfway between the Greek island of Crete and Egypt’s coastline, or around 282 kilometers offshore, after takeoff from Charles de Gaulle Airport, authorities said.
Egyptians mourned the loss of 40 of their compatriots and the incident reminded them of the October crash in the Sinai of a Russian passenger plane that took off from an Egyptian Red Sea resort, killing all 224 people aboard.
A local branch of ISIS claimed responsibility, hitting the Egyptian economy hard.
El-Sisi convened an emergency meeting of the National Security Council, the country’s highest security body. It includes the defense, foreign and interior ministers and the chiefs of the intelligence agencies.
The council decided to unveil the circumstances of the plane’s crash as soon as possible in cooperation with friendly countries such as France and Greece.
It also tasked the government with providing all the necessary assistance to the families of the plane’s passengers and crew.
The Egyptian military said it did not receive a distress call from the doomed plane.
There were 56 passengers from the following nationalities: 30 Egyptians, 15 French, one Briton, one Belgian, two Iraqis, a Kuwaiti, a Saudi, a Sudanese, a Chadian, a Portuguese and an Algerian.
There were also 10 crew on board.