Egypt sends robot submarine to help plane crash search

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Sisi: "There is no scenario we can confirm"

CAIRO, May 22 (Reuters) - Egypt has sent a robot submarine to join the hunt for an EgyptAir plane which crashed in some of the deepest waters of the Mediterranean Sea with 66 people on board, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Sunday.

SEE ALSO: Ominous graffiti reportedly scribbled on the bottom of the crashed EgyptAir flight

Ships and planes scouring the sea north of Alexandria have found body parts, personal belongings and debris from the Airbus 320, but are still trying to locate the black box recorders that could shed light on the cause of Thursday's crash.

Sisi said that underwater equipment from Egypt's offshore oil industry was being brought in to help the search.

Photos believed to be from the wreckage:

9 PHOTOS
Photos believed to be EgyptAir Flight 804 wreckage are released (5/21)
See Gallery
Egypt sends robot submarine to help plane crash search
ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT - MAY 21: Some of the passengers' belongings and parts of the wreck of EgyptAir flight MS804 are seen as more wreckage found north of Alexandria, in Egypt on May 21, 2016. EgyptAir flight MS804 crashed with 56 passengers and 10 crew on board on May 19. (Photo by Egyptian Armed Forces / Handout /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT - MAY 21: Some of the passengers' belongings and parts of the wreck of EgyptAir flight MS804 are seen as more wreckage found north of Alexandria, in Egypt on May 21, 2016. EgyptAir flight MS804 crashed with 56 passengers and 10 crew on board on May 19. (Photo by Egyptian Armed Forces / Handout /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT - MAY 21: Some of the passengers' belongings and parts of the wreck of EgyptAir flight MS804 are seen as more wreckage found north of Alexandria, in Egypt on May 21, 2016. EgyptAir flight MS804 crashed with 56 passengers and 10 crew on board on May 19. (Photo by Egyptian Armed Forces / Handout /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT - MAY 21: Some of the passengers' belongings and parts of the wreck of EgyptAir flight MS804 are seen as more wreckage found north of Alexandria, in Egypt on May 21, 2016. EgyptAir flight MS804 crashed with 56 passengers and 10 crew on board on May 19. (Photo by Egyptian Armed Forces / Handout /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT - MAY 21: Some of the passengers' belongings and parts of the wreck of EgyptAir flight MS804 are seen as more wreckage found north of Alexandria, in Egypt on May 21, 2016. EgyptAir flight MS804 crashed with 56 passengers and 10 crew on board on May 19. (Photo by Egyptian Armed Forces / Handout /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
This still image taken from video posted Saturday, May 21, 2016, on the official Facebook page of the Egyptian Armed Forces spokesman shows personal belongings and other wreckage of EgyptAir flight 804. Smoke was detected in multiple places on EgyptAir flight 804 moments before it plummeted into the Mediterranean, but the cause of the crash that killed all 66 on board remains unclear, the French air accident investigation agency said on Saturday. (Egyptian Armed Forces via AP)
This still image taken from video posted Saturday, May 21, 2016, on the official Facebook page of the Egyptian Armed Forces spokesman shows a piece of carpet from the wreckage of EgyptAir flight 804. Smoke was detected in multiple places on EgyptAir flight 804 moments before it plummeted into the Mediterranean, but the cause of the crash that killed all 66 on board remains unclear, the French air accident investigation agency said on Saturday. (Egyptian Armed Forces via AP)
This still image taken from video posted Saturday, May 21, 2016, on the official Facebook page of the Egyptian Armed Forces spokesman shows some personal belongings and other wreckage from EgyptAir flight 804. Smoke was detected in multiple places on EgyptAir flight 804 moments before it plummeted into the Mediterranean, but the cause of the crash that killed all 66 on board remains unclear, the French air accident investigation agency said on Saturday. (Egyptian Armed Forces via AP)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

"They have a submarine that can reach 3,000 meters under water," he said in a televised speech. "It moved today in the direction of the plane crash site because we are working hard to salvage the black boxes."

An oil ministry source said Sisi was referring to a robot submarine used mostly to maintain offshore oil rigs. It was not clear whether the vessel would be able to help locate the black boxes, or would be used in later stages of the operation.

Air crash investigation experts say the search teams have around 30 days to listen for pings sent out once every second from beacons attached to the two black boxes. At this stage of the search they would typically use acoustic hydrophones, bringing in more advanced robots later to scan the seabed and retrieve any objects once they have been found.

EgyptAir flight 804 from Paris to Cairo vanished off radar screens early on Thursday as it entered Egyptian airspace over the Mediterranean. The 10 crew and 56 passengers included 30 Egyptian and 15 French nationals.

French investigators say that the plane sent a series of warnings indicating that smoke had been detected on board shortly before it disappeared.

SEE ALSO: Australian climber dies while descending from Everest summit

The signals did not indicate what caused the smoke or fire, and aviation experts have not ruled out either deliberate sabotage or a technical fault, but they offered early clues as to what unfolded in the moments before the crash.

"Until now all scenarios are possible," Sisi said in his first public remarks on the crash. "So please, it is very important that we do not talk and say there is a specific scenario."

The crash was the third blow since October to hit Egypt's travel industry, still reeling from political unrest following the 2011 uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak.

A suspected Islamic State bombing brought down a Russian airliner after it took off from Sharm al-Sheikh airport in late October, killing all 224 people on board, and an EgyptAir plane was hijacked in March by a man wearing a fake suicide belt.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Sharm al-Sheikh bombing within hours but a purported statement from the group's spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, distributed on Saturday, made no mention of the crash.

ANGUISH OF RELATIVES

EgyptAir has told relatives of the victims that recovering and identifying bodies from the sea could take weeks, adding to the pain and uncertainty of grieving families.

Samar Ezzedine, 27 years old and newly wed, was one of the cabin crew on flight 804. Her mother Amal has sat in the lobby of a hotel overlooking Cairo Airport, still waiting for her daughter to come back.

"She is missing, who hosts a funeral for a missing person?" she murmured.

Samar's aunt, Mona, said Amal was reluctant to go home or even move away from the hotel door. "She doesn't want to believe it ... I told her to switch off her phone, but she said: What if Samar calls?"

An EgyptAir union appealed to Sisi to allow death certificates to be issued for the victims, to avoid the usual five-year delay in the case of missing people which leaves relatives in a legal limbo, including over pensions.

In his speech on Sunday, Sisi said the investigation would not be over quickly, but promised it would be transparent.

"This could take a long time but no one can hide these things. As soon as the results are out, people will be informed," he told ministers and parliamentarians in the port city of Damietta.

The October crash devastated Egyptian tourism, a main source of foreign exchange for a country of 80 million people.

SEE ALSO: Mark Cuban open to being Trump's (or Clinton's) VP

Tourism revenue in the first three months of the year plunged by two thirds to $500 million from a year earlier, and the latest incident could crush hopes for a swift recovery.

EgyptAir Chairman Safwat Moslem said the radius of the search zone was 40 nautical miles, but could be expanded. The radius is equivalent to an area of 5,000 square nautical miles (17,000 square km).

A European satellite spotted a 2 km-long oil slick in the Mediterranean, about 40 km (20 nautical miles) southeast of the aircraft's last known position, the European Space Agency said. (Additional reporting by Abdelnasser Aboelfadl and Eric Knecht in Cairo, Tim Hepher in Paris; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners