Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said it was too early to rule out any explanation for the crash, including an attack like the one blamed for bringing down a Russian airliner over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula last year. The country’s aviation minister said a terrorist attack was more likely than a technical failure.
The Egyptian civil aviation ministry initially said Greek authorities had found “floating material” and life jackets likely to be from the plane, an Airbus A320.
However, late on Thursday EgyptAir Vice President Ahmed Adel told CNN that the wreckage had not been found.
“We stand corrected on finding the wreckage because what we identified is not a part of our plane. So the search and rescue is still going on,” Adel said.
Greek defense sources told Reuters the material was discovered in the sea 230 miles (370 km) south of the island of Crete.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ordered the civil aviation ministry, the army’s search and rescue center, the navy, and the air force to take all necessary measures to locate debris from the aircraft.
In a statement issued by his office, Sisi also ordered an investigative committee formed by the civil aviation ministry to immediately start investigating the causes of the plane’s disappearance.
Officials from multiple U.S. agencies told Reuters that a U.S. review of satellite imagery so far had not produced any signs of an explosion aboard the EgyptAir flight.
The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said the conclusion was the result of a preliminary examination of imagery and cautioned against media reports suggesting the United States believed a bomb was responsible for the crash.
They said the United States has not ruled out any possible causes for the crash, including mechanical failure, terrorism or a deliberate act by the pilot or crew.
Amid uncertainty about what downed the plane, Los Angeles International Airport became the first major U.S. air transportation hub to say it was stepping up security measures.
“In light of the disappearance of EgyptAir Flight MS804, we have heightened our security posture and enhanced our counter-terrorism security measures,” the Los Angeles Airport Police said in a statement.
Greece had deployed aircraft and a frigate to search for the missing plane. Egypt said it would lead the investigation and France would participate. Paris said three investigators would arrive in Egypt on Thursday evening.
In Washington, President Barack Obama received a briefing on the disappearance from his adviser for homeland security and counterterrorism, the White House said. A White House spokesman said it was too early to know the cause of the crash and offered condolences. (Courtesy Reuters)