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EgyptAir crash: Debris found from flight MS804

Debris and body parts have been found in the Mediterranean Sea by teams searching for a doomed EgyptAir plane, Greek and Egyptian officials say.

EgyptAir crash: Debris found from flight MS804
EgyptAir crash: Debris found from flight MS804

Flight MS804 was en route from Paris to Cairo with 66 passengers and crew when it crashed early on Thursday.

Items including seats and luggage have also been retrieved by Egyptian search crews.

The debris was discovered about 290km (180 miles) north of Alexandria, the Egyptian military said.

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European Space Agency satellites spotted an oil slick in the area where the flight went missing but the organisation said there was no guarantee it was from the plane.

The search is now focused on finding the plane’s flight recorders, the Associated Press news agency reports.

There were smoke alerts from the onboard toilet and the plane’s electrics shortly before the signal was lost, according to data published on air industry website the Aviation Herald.

However, there has been no independent confirmation.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has expressed his “utmost sadness and regret” at the crash.

Greek, Egyptian, French and UK military units have been taking part in a search operation near Greece’s Karpathos island.

Greece said radar showed the Airbus A320 had made two sharp turns and dropped more than 25,000ft (7,620m) before plunging into the sea.

Egypt says the plane was more likely to have been brought down by a terrorist act than a technical fault.

However, there has been “absolutely no indication” so far as to why the plane came down, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Friday morning.

Three investigators from the French air accident investigation bureau, along with a technical adviser from Airbus, have joined the Egyptian inquiry.

The BBC has learned the plane that disappeared was forced to make an emergency landing in 2013 after the pilot noticed the engine overheating, but an official report said the defect had been repaired.

In France, the focus is on whether a possible breach of security happened at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.

After last November’s Paris attacks, some airport staff had their security clearance revoked over fears of links to Islamic extremists.

Eric Moutet, a lawyer for some of those employees, told the BBC that there had been attempts by Islamists to recruit airport staff.

“That is clear,” he said. “There are people who are being radicalised in some of the trade unions, etc. The authorities have their work cut out with this problem.”

In October, an Airbus A321 operated by Russia’s Metrojet blew up over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, with all 224 people on board killed.

Sinai Province, a local affiliate of the Islamic State jihadist group, said it had smuggled a bomb on board.

Flight MS804 left Paris at 23:09 local time on Wednesday (21:09 GMT) and was scheduled to arrive in the Egyptian capital soon after 03:15 local time (01:15 GMT) on Thursday.

On the plane were 56 passengers, seven crew members and three security personnel.

Greek aviation officials say air traffic controllers spoke to the pilot when he entered Greek airspace and everything appeared normal.

They tried to contact him again at 02:27 Cairo time, as the plane was set to enter Egyptian airspace, but “despite repeated calls, the aircraft did not respond”. Two minutes later it vanished from radar.

Philip Baum, the editor of Aviation Security International Magazine, said given smoke was detected on board shortly before the crash it was unlikely to be a hijacking.

“It’s more likely a fire,” he told the BBC. “Now whether that was a technical fire, a short circuit or whether it was because a bomb went off on board, we don’t know.” BBC