Egypt denies reports that EgyptAir body parts suggested an explosion
CAIRO — Egyptian forensic officials denied reports Tuesday that body parts recovered following the crash of EgyptAir Flight 804 suggested there was an explosion on board.
The Associated Press quoted a senior Egyptian forensics official who said 80 body parts he examined at a Cairo morgue were so small that it suggested there was an explosion on board.
"There isn't even a whole body part, like an arm or a head," the source told the AP on condition of anonymity "The logical explanation is that it was an explosion."
NBC News was unable to immediately reach Cairo's Zeinhom Morgue on Tuesday and could not confirm the official's remarks.
However, the country's Forensic Medical Department later posted a statement on its Facebook page saying that the reports had "circulated wrong information."
The statement said the reports were "baseless, and it is speculation that has not come from the Forensic Medical Department or any forensic doctor among its employees."
It urged news outlets to "avoid chaos and spreading false rumors" that damaged the "state's high interests and national security."
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France's BEA air accident investigation agency declined to comment on the AP's report. A spokesperson told NBC News on Tuesday that only Egyptian officials would be able to make a statement as they were heading up the investigation.
The AP's report comes one day after Egypt's aviation minister told NBC News that it was "way too early" to speculate about the crash.
The wreckage and body parts would "have to go through ... lots of analysis and tests in order to draw even preliminary conclusions," Sherif Fathy said. "For the time being ... [we] don't have much to draw any conclusions."
The AP told NBC News it was "standing by" the source in the original report.
An international search effort involving ships, planes and a submarine has recovered debris and body parts from the Mediterranean Sea north of Egypt's coast.
Fathy initially suggested that terrorism was the most likely cause, but officials have since sought to quell speculation as to the reason behind the crash.
"We're far away from closing in on the fuselage of the aircraft," he said Monday. "What we found is only small pieces and there's a lot to be done in this respect."