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First pictures of EgyptAir wreckage emerge but reason for disaster remains unclear

Reports today suggest the front of the plane had smoke in it before the crash.

Mideast Egypt Plane A life vest from EgyptAir flight 804 Source: AP

Updated 16.55

THE FIRST PHOTOGRAPHS have emerged of debris of EgyptAir flight 804, which crashed into the Mediterranean on its way to Cairo from Paris, killing all 66 people on board.

The Egyptian military posted the photos today on its spokesman’s Facebook page. They appear to show the heavily-damaged remains of plane seats, life jackets — one of which is seemingly undamaged — and a scrap of cloth that looks to be part of a baby’s blanket or sleeping bag.

The Egyptian military announced yesterday that it had found debris in the eastern Mediterranean, around 180 miles (290 kilometers) north of Alexandria.

Mideast Egypt Plane Part of the wreckage from EgyptAir flight 804 posted today on the airline's spokesperson's Facebook page Source: AP

Mideast Egypt Plane Part of a plane chair from the flight Source: AP

However, investigators are no closer at present to pinpointing the reason for the disaster.

A senior official at the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry has denied media reports that the plane’s cockpit voice and flight data recorders, commonly known as the black boxes, have been located.

The official spoke this afternoon on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.

Military spokesman Brigadier General Mohammed Samir also said today that he had no information to share on the location or the retrieval of the black boxes.

Mideast Egypt Plane Source: AP

The boxes are believed to be in Mediterranean waters around 290 kilometres north of Alexandria. The waters are 8,000 to 10,000 feet deep (2,440 to 3,050 metres), and the pings from the black boxes can be detected up to a depth of 20,000 feet (6 kilometres).

Meanwhile, heightened security has been observed on the latest EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo.

Prior to boarding this afternoon, an AP reporter said security checks at the Charles de Gaulle airport seemed normal, with no overt signs of addition security measures. However a team of French security officials entered the plane and walked through the aisles before takeoff.

Airport security in Paris is considered up to international aviation standards but one expert says the chilling reality is that security is ultimately fallible. Sylvain Prevost, who trains Paris airport personnel, told the AP that “the infinitely perfect does not exist”.

Smoke

Earlier it emerged that smoke was recorded in parts of the plane which came down on Thursday, claiming 66 lives.

Data released by the Aviation Herald shows that smoke was recorded in the plane’s toilet and avionics systems, along with a number of faults.

While Egypt’s aviation minister has pointed to terrorism as more likely than technical failure, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said there was “absolutely no indication” of why the plane went down.

“We’re looking at all possibilities,” he said, as reports indicated there had been smoke on board and an apparent problem with the flight control system just before it went down.

The plane disappeared between the Greek island of Karpathos and the Egyptian coast in the early hours of Thursday, without its crew sending a distress signal.

It had turned sharply twice before plunging 22,000 feet (6,700 metres) and vanishing from radar screens, said Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos.

PastedImage-76757 The flight's path. Source: PA WIRE

The messages indicated intense smoke in the front portion of the plane. The error warnings also indicated that the flight control computer malfunctioned.

It said the information was insufficient to determine whether the plane was brought down by a bomb or other causes.

Philip Baum, the editor of Aviation Security International Magazine, told the BBC that technical failure could not be ruled out.

“There was smoke reported in the aircraft lavatory, then smoke in the avionics bay, and over a period of three minutes the aircraft’s systems shut down,” he said.

“That’s starting to indicate that it probably wasn’t a hijack, it probably wasn’t a struggle in the cockpit, it’s more likely a fire on board. 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.”

With AP and AFP

Originally published 7.27am

Read: Body part and luggage found in search for missing EgyptAir plane

Read: Terrorism most likely explanation for Egyptair flight disappearance, experts say

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