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‘Smoke on board’ EgyptAir plane before crash
EgyptAir flight MS804 sent automated messages signalling smoke onboard before plunging into the Mediterranean, the French aviation safety agency said Saturday, as search teams hunted for more wreckage.
The Airbus A320 carrying 66 people had been flying from Paris to Cairo early Thursday when it plummeted and turned full circle before vanishing off radar, with some debris later found in the Mediterranean Sea.
While the automated messages may offer clues, more wreckage including the black boxes will need to be found before investigators can piece together what happened.
“There were ACAR messages emitted by the plane indicating that there was smoke in the cabin shortly before data transmission broke off,” a spokesman for France’s Bureau of Investigations and Analysis told AFP.
ACAR, which stands for Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting Systema, is a digital system that transmits short messages between aircraft and ground stations.
It was “far too soon to interpret and understand the cause of the accident as long as we have not found the wreckage or the flight data recorders,” he added.
Search teams were scouring the sea on Saturday for more parts of the plane and the black boxes for clues on why it came down.
An EgyptAir official said the search was focused on finding the bodies of the passengers and the flight recorders, which will stop emitting a signal in a month when the batteries run out.
While Egypt’s aviation minister has pointed to terrorism as more likely than technical failure, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Friday there was “absolutely no indication” of why the plane crashed.
“We’re looking at all possibilities,” he said.
The disaster comes just seven months after the bombing of a Russian passenger jet by the Islamic State jihadist group over Egypt’s Sinai peninsula in October that killed all 224 people on board.
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