French investigators discovered trace levels of TNT on the wreckage of an EgyptAir plane that crashed in May, according to a report from Reuters. However, the French investigators claim that Egyptian authorities blocked the investigators from further examining the materials.
The report adds that Egyptian officials have disputed the claim.
EgyptAir Flight MS804 crashed into the Eastern Mediterranean Sea during an overnight flight from Paris to Cairo on May 19, killing all 66 passengers aboard the Airbus 320, the BBC reported. Of those killed, 51 were Egyptians and 15 were French.
The cause of the EgyptAir crash has caused considerable controversy as investigators try to piece together clues.
In July, investigators who had analyzed a cockpit voice recorder that survived the crash announced that there had been a fire on board the plane before it crashed, according to an Aljazeera report.
“The Egyptian-led investigative committee said on Tuesday, though, that the experts needed more time to analyse the information gathered before they could reach ‘very basic conclusions,'” read the Aljazeera report. “The recordings were consistent with data previously recovered from the wreckage that showed heat, fire, and smoke around a bathroom and the avionics area — the part of a plane that houses electronic equipment.”
The voice recordings have failed to answer all the questions raised by the MS804 crash, or the traces of TNT found on the wreckage.
“The origin of the traces remains unclear and Egyptian judicial authorities did not allow French investigators to examine the debris in detail,” Reuters quoted from a report in France’s Le Figaro.
According to the Reuters report, Egyptian authorities want to release a joint report with their French counterparts to confirm the presence of explosive materials on the wreckage of EgyptAir Flight MS804. France, however, has refused because they feel that the Egyptians stymied their initial investigation, making it difficult for them to assess where they materials came from or how they might have gotten there.
Egypt refutes the accusation.
“None of the investigators were prevented from participating in investigations, but rather the work is being done jointly according to the conduct of the investigative process,” Reuters quoted a member of the Egyptian-led investigation committee as saying.
EgyptAir Flight MS804 fell off of air control radar just before 3 a.m. local time on the morning of May 19, Aljazeera reports. The plane was somewhere between Crete and Egypt when it crashed.
“Radar data showed the aircraft had been cruising normally in clear skies before it turned 90 degrees left, then a full 360 degrees to the right as it plummeted from 11,582 metres to 4,572 metres,” Aljazeera reported.
The remains of several of the survivors were discovered by search and rescue teams and investigators who brought them to authorities in Alexandria, Egypt, according to the Aljazeera report.
In late June, The Independent reported that France opened a manslaughter investigation into the cause of the EgyptAir Flight MS804 crash, but explicitly stated there was no evidence of terrorism at that point.
“Prosecutors opened a preliminary investigation – a normal procedure when French citizens are involved – and have now handed their findings to judges for a fully fledged probe into manslaughter,” The Independent reports. “A spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office, Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre, said the inquiry was launched on Monday as an accident investigation, not a terrorism case. She said authorities were not favouring the theory that the plane had been brought down deliberately.”
Possibly fueling the notion of potential terrorist involvement with the EgyptAir crash is the fact that the pilots made no distress call before crashing, notes the report from The Independent. However, no terrorist group claimed responsibility, and aside from the possible traces TNT on the EgyptAir wreckage, investigators have found no other evidence of foul play.