MYSTERY continued to surround the fate of the doomed EgyptAir flight last night – as harrowing images of debris from the wreckage emerged.
Life vests, shoes, handbags and seats were all recovered from the expanse of Mediterranean where the flight crashed.
Images released by the Egyptian military also showed a scrap of cloth that appeared to be part of a baby’s purple and pink blanket.
The harrowing scenes emerged as theories about the fate of flight MS804 before it plummeted into the Mediterranean continued to emerge.
Many experts quickly deduced the horror was almost certainly the work of Islamist extremists.
A Russian airliner was brought down by terrorism over Egyptian soil last year, and the French-Egyptian link to the latest tragedy seemed to underline the fact it was terrorism.
But a new picture has emerged of the last moments of the Paris to Cairo flight, which vanished from radar screens early on Thursday with 66 people on board.
Investigators have confirmed smoke was detected in various parts of the cabin three minutes before it disappeared.
A number of computers also shut down in the seconds before the Airbus was lost.
Sebastien Barthe, spokesman for the French air accident investigation agency, said the aircraft’s automatic detection system sent messages indicating smoke a few minutes before the plane disappeared from radar.
The messages, he explained, “generally mean the start of a fire”, but added: “We are drawing no conclusions from this. Everything else is pure conjecture.”
The key now is to recover the black box flight recorder.
It will give the clearest picture of what happened on board and whether the flight is the latest to succumb to the scourge of air terrorism.
The fact the Egyptian military last night reiterated it had received no distress message from the aircraft before it disappeared left a slick of terrorism-related suspicion in its wake.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the Foreign Office was in close contact with Egyptian and French authorities and said that staff were supporting the family of a British passport holder – Richard Osman, 40 – who boarded the flight in Paris.
Meanwhile, French president Francois Hollande held an emergency meeting at the Elysee Palace.
He also spoke to Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi by telephone and agreed to “closely co-operate to establish as soon as possible the circumstances” surrounding the disaster.
The debris and passenger belongings were located 180 miles off the coast of Alexandria.
Investigators will inspect the debris and personal belongings that have been recovered for signs of a bomb blast.
Civil aviation minister Sherif Fathi said the disaster was still being investigated but the possibility it was a terror attack “is higher than the possibility of having a technical failure”.
Alexander Bortnikov, chief of Russia’s top domestic security agency, said: “In all likelihood, it was a terror attack.”
Among those on board were a child and two babies, EgyptAir said.
The airline said the passengers included 30 Egyptians, 15 French, two Iraqis and one each from Britain, Sudan, Chad, Portugal, Algeria, Canada, Belgium, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
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