EgyptAir victim remains arrive at Cairo morgue

  • 24/05/2016
Families of EgyptAir victims at the absentee funeral mass at the main Cathedral in Cairo (Reuters)
Families of EgyptAir victims at the absentee funeral mass at the main Cathedral in Cairo (Reuters)

Egypt's public prosecutor has formally requested data on the crashed EgyptAir plane from France and Greece, as the victims' remains began arriving at a Cairo morgue ready for DNA testing.

EgyptAir flight 804 from Paris to Cairo vanished off radar screens early on Thursday (local time) as it entered Egyptian airspace over the Mediterranean. The 10 crew and 56 passengers included 30 Egyptian, 15 French nationals and an Australian-British dual national, all believed to be dead.

Ships and planes scouring the sea north of Alexandria found body parts, personal belongings and debris from the Airbus 320, but were still trying to locate two "black box" recorders that could shed light on the cause of Thursday's crash.

"There were enough body parts to fill one body bag," a security official who saw the body parts arrive at Zeinhom morgue in Cairo told Reuters anonymously.

Investigators are due to take DNA samples from the families of passengers and crew on Tuesday as the task begins of identifying what few remains have been recovered so far.

Public Prosecutor Nabil Sadek asked his French counterpart to hand over documents, audio and visual records on the plane during its stay at Charles de Gaulle airport and until it left French airspace, his office said in a statement on Monday.

EgyptAir victim remains arrive at Cairo morgue

Military stand guard outside the El-Mosheer Tantawy Mosque ahead of memorial service for relatives of EgyptAir victims (Getty)

He also asked Greek authorities to hand over transcripts of calls between the pilot and Greek air traffic control officials, and for the officials to be questioned over whether the pilot sent a distress signal.

Egyptian officials say they received no mayday call from the pilots before the plane disappeared.

Greek officials say that controllers chatted with the pilot after the plane entered Greek airspace and that he sounded cheerful.

He thanked them in Greek, they said. When they tried to call him again to hand over to Egyptian air traffic control they got no response. The plane then disappeared from radar.

French investigators say the plane sent a series of warnings indicating that smoke had been detected on board as well as other possible computer faults shortly before it disappeared.

The signals did not indicate what may have caused smoke, and aviation experts have not ruled out either deliberate sabotage or a technical fault.

Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said on Friday that Greek radar had picked up sharp swings in the jet's trajectory as it plunged from a cruising altitude to 15,000 feet (4572 metres), then vanished from radar.

That description of the plane's last moments has not been confirmed officially by Egyptian officials. The head of Egyptian air navigation services said Egyptian officials did not spot the plane swerving.

"We did not record any form of swerving," head of National Air Navigation Services Company Ehab Mohieeldin told privately owned local television channel CBC on Monday night.

He added that Egyptian officials were able to spot the jet on radar for one minute before it disappeared but they were unable to communicate with it.

If the black box recorders are found intact their contents will be studied in Egypt, air accident investigator Captain Hani Galal told CBC, but they will be sent abroad for analysis if found damaged.

The State Security Prosecution will handle the criminal side of the investigation and will examine all debris and remains, state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram reported on Sunday.

An Egyptian team formed by the Civil Aviation Ministry is conducting the technical investigation and three officials from France's BEA air accident investigation agency arrived in Cairo on Friday with an expert from Airbus.