EgyptAir flight MS804 crash: Greek defence minister says body part and suitcases from missing plane

The Greek defence minister says a body part has been found in the search for EgyptAir flight MS804.

“A few hours earlier we were informed that a body part, two seats and one or more items of luggage where found in the search area," Panos Kammenos said.

He told a news conference the items were found in the search area slightly to the south of where the plane vanished from radar on Thursday morning with 66 people on board.

Debris was being transported back to Cairo for analysis as investigations into that cause of the disaster continued.

EgyptAir said government officials had been informed of the discovery on Friday morning during searches for the Airbus A320.

“The Egyptian Armed Forces have informed EgyptAir that they have found the first debris from the missing aircraft operating flight MS804 295km from the Egyptian coastline,” a statement said.

“EgyptAir sincerely conveys its deepest sorrow to the families and friends of the passengers on board.”

A spokesperson at the airline’s head offices in Cairo told The Independent the find was separate from debris previously recovered that was found to be unrelated.

“The statement yesterday was incorrect – there was a misunderstanding – but today in the morning they found the wreckage around 295km (180 miles) away from the coast at Alexandria,” she added.

“The information has been confirmed.”

Brigadier General Mohammed Samir, a spokesperson for the Egyptian army, said planes and naval vessels found “personal belongings of the passengers and parts of the plane's wreckage”.

A possible oil slick from the plane was also picked up on a satellite at around 4pm on Thursday.

The European Space Agency (ESA) says its Sentinel-1A radar satellite detected the 1.2 mile-long slick around 25 miles south-east of the aircraft's last known location.

The information was passed to authorities on to aid search operations but officials emphasised that there was no guarantee the slick was from the EgyptAir plane.

Images from its Sentinel-2A satellite will be analysed further for traces of fuel or debris after it passes above the same area on Sunday.

EgyptAir made a previous announcement claiming part of the aircraft had been found on Thursday but backtracked after analysis indicated the debris was not from a plane.

The captain of a cargo ship that joined the search had shared photos claiming to show items from the missing plane floating in the sea, while Greek television also published images.

The scheduled flight left Charles de Gaulle at 11.09pm on Wednesday (10.09 BST) and radar shows it continued on its normal path over Italy and Greece before starting to cross the Mediterranean.

The last signal was picked up by Greek air traffic control at 2.27am (1.27am BST) and the country’s civil aviation ministry said the pilot “did not respond” to contact attempts as the plane headed towards Egyptian airspace.

Egyptian authorities lost contact with the flight at around 2.30am (1.30am BST), 45 minutes before it was due to land at Cairo International Airport.

The Greek defence minister said the plane had been cruising at an altitude of 37,000ft when it started rapidly losing altitude, suddenly veering to the left and then making a full circle in the opposite direction immediately after it entered Egyptian airspace.

The aircraft dropped by 22,000ft to 15,000ft before contact was lost at around 10,000ft.

All 66 people on board are feared dead. They include 56 passengers, three security staff and seven crew members.

EgyptAir said 30 Egyptians, 15 French passengers, two Iraqis, and one passenger from Britain, Sudan, Chad, Portugal, Algeria, Canada, Belgium, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were on board.

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