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May 21, 2016 8:35 PM

The Latest: First audio from EgyptAir flight released

The Associated Press

CAIRO (AP) The Latest on the crash of EgyptAir Flight 804 (all times local):

2 a.m.

The first audio available from EgyptAir Flight 804 indicates that all was routine as the plane checked in with air traffic controllers in Zurich, Switzerland, late Wednesday night, before being handed over to Italian air traffic controllers in Padua (Padova).

Control: EgyptAir804 contact Padova 1-2-0, decimal 7-2-5, good night.

Pilot: This is 0-7-2-5 Padova control. (Unintelligible) 8-0-4. Thank you so much. Good day er good night.

The audio recording was taken from www.liveatc.net, a website that provides live air traffic control broadcasts from around the world.

The communication occurred around midnight local time, about 2 hours before Greek air traffic controllers in Athens lost contact with EgyptAir Flight 804.

____ 10 p.m.

As French authorities question airport staff who had access to EgyptAir Flight 804, cleaning crews are among those drawing attention.

One theory is that a bomb could have been placed in the plane while it was on the tarmac in Paris, or at its previous stops in Cairo or Tunis, although there is no evidence so far of a bomb being aboard the flight that crashed Thursday into the Mediterranean while flying from Paris to Cairo.

Sylvain Prevost, who trains Paris airport personnel, says cleaning staff are trained to alert authorities to suspicious items but specialized security personnel are not routinely required to sweep a plane after the cleaning crew leaves.

In an email to The Associated Press, he noted that rules vary from airport to airport and said he was not aware of the procedures used when the EgyptAir plane was parked in Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport.

Prevost noted that despite extensive efforts to ensure security, workers can sometimes be threatened into cooperating with criminals.


5:35 p.m.

A senior official at the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry has denied media reports that EgyptAir Flight 804's cockpit voice and flight data recorders, commonly known as the black boxes, have been located.

The official spoke Saturday on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

Military spokesman Brig-Gen. Mohammed Samir also says Saturday he had no information to share on the location or the retrieval of the black boxes.

The boxes are believed to be in Mediterranean waters around 180 miles (290 kilometers) north of Alexandria. The waters are 8,000 to 10,000 feet deep (2,440 to 3,050 meters), and the pings from the black boxes can be detected up to a depth of 20,000 feet (6 kilometers).

By Hamza Hendawi in Cairo.


4:35 p.m.

An Associated Press staffer is seeing heightened security on the latest EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo.

Prior to boarding, the AP reporter says security checks Saturday afternoon 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."

The Egyptian military on Saturday was pulling debris from the Mediterranean that it believes is from EgyptAir Flight 804, which crashed Thursday with 66 people aboard as it flew from Paris to Cairo.


1:00 p.m.

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 Saturday 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 Friday that it had found debris in the eastern Mediterranean, around 180 miles (290 kilometers) north of Alexandria.


12:35 p.m.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he and other officials including representatives of Paris Aeroport, the French prosecutor, EgyptAir, and the Egyptian ambassador to Paris had met with about 100 family members to express "our profound compassion" over the crash.

In a statement delivered to reporters following the meeting, he said: "All the hypotheses are being examined none are being favored."

French air accident investigators are already in Cairo, he said.


9:50 a.m.

The French air accident investigation agency says smoke was detected in multiple places in the EgyptAir Flight 804 before it crashed in the Mediterranean, but the cause remains unclear.

Spokesman Sebastien Barthe told The Associated Press that the plane's automatic detection system sent messages indicating smoke a few minutes before it disappeared from radar.

He said the messages "generally mean the start of a fire."

He adds: "We are drawing no conclusions from this. Everything else is pure conjecture."

The industry publication Aviation Herald reported Friday that sensors detected smoke in the plane's lavatory, suggesting a fire onboard.

The plane, carrying 66 people, crashed in the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday.


7:55 a.m.

Search crews are scouring for further wreckage of EgyptAir flight 804 including for the plane's black boxes, which could provide vital clues to why the jetliner crashed killing all 66 on board.

Planes and vessels from Egypt and five other countries are searching a wide area of the Mediterranean Saturday, a day after the Egyptian army found debris from the Airbus 320 in the sea 180 miles (290 kilometers) north of Alexandria.

No hard evidence has emerged to why the plane dropped off radar, swerved wildly and plummeted early Thursday morning.

Investigators are considering the possibility of a terror attack. No militant group claims to have brought down the plane.

The industry publication Aviation Herald reports that sensors detected smoke in the plane's lavatory, suggesting a fire onboard.


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