By Tobi Soniyi in Abuja and Chinedu Eze with agency report
Egyptian military on Friday confirmed that the wreckage of the ill-fated flight MS804 had been found.
This is as President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday phoned President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi of Egypt to commiserate with him and the people of Egypt on yesterday’s EgyptAir crash which claimed many lives
AP reported that search crews found floating human remains, luggage and seats from the doomed EgyptAir jetliner but face a potentially more complex task in locating bigger pieces of wreckage and the black boxes vital to determining why the plane plunged into the Mediterranean.
Looking for clues to whether terrorists brought down EgyptAir Flight 804 and its 66 people aboard, investigators pored over the passenger list and questioned ground crew members at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, where the plane took off.
Reports indicated the Airbus A320 had been cruising normally in clear skies on a nighttime flight to Cairo early Thursday when it suddenly lurched left, then right, spun all the way around and plummeted 38,000 feet into the sea, never issuing a distress signal.
In Egypt, home to 30 of the victims, grieving families and friends wondered if their loved ones would ever be recovered. Many gathered in mosques for Salat al-Ghaib, or “prayers for the absent,” held for the dead whose bodies have not been found.
“This is what is ripping our hearts apart, when we think about it. When someone you love so much dies, at least you have a body to bury. But we have no body until now,” said Sherif al-Metanawi, a childhood friend of the pilot, Mohammed Shoukair.
Egyptian authorities said they believed terrorism was a more likely explanation than equipment failure, and some aviation experts have said the erratic flight suggests a bomb blast or a struggle in the cockpit. But so far no hard evidence has emerged.
No militant group has claimed to have brought down the aircraft. That is a contrast to the downing of a Russian jet in October over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula that killed 224 people. In that case, the Islamic State group’s branch in Sinai issued a claim of responsibility within hours. On Friday, IS issued a statement on clashes with the Egyptian military in Sinai, but nothing about the plane.
Three European security officials said the passenger manifest for Flight 804 contained no names on terrorism watch lists. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the investigation. The manifest was leaked online and has not been verified by the airline.
Further checks are being conducted on relatives of the passengers.
AP also reported that French aviation investigators have begun to check and question all baggage handlers, maintenance workers, gate agents and other ground crew members at De Gaulle Airport who had a direct or indirect link to the plane before it took off, according to a French judicial official. The official was not authorised to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
This crash, industry pundits assert, would further dim the chances of Egypt tourism, which has been struggling to pick up after the revolution.
The explosion of Russian airliner on take-off at Sharm El Sheik and the attempted hijack of Egypt Air flight earlier in the year, paint the picture of a country that is insecure, which the Flight 804 has exacerbated.
A statement issued by the Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu stated that while condoling the Egyptian leader on the loss of 66 lives in the crash, Buhari assured President Al-Sisi and the people of Egypt of the sympathy of all Nigerians as they mourned the passengers and crew of EgyptAir MS804.
Buhari told Al-Sisi that the thoughts and prayers of Nigerians were with the families and friends of bereaved Egyptians and other nationals who were in sorrow as a result of the tragic air crash.
The president prayed that God Almighty would comfort all those who lost relatives and friends in the crash and grant eternal rest to the souls of those who died.