Wreckage of EgyptAir Flight 804 found in Mediterranean, officials say

By Doug G. Ware   |   Updated June 15, 2016 at 5:38 PM
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CAIRO, June 15 (UPI) -- Nearly a month after it crashed in the Mediterranean Sea, the wreckage from EgyptAir Flight 804 was found by investigators Wednesday, authorities said.

The plane disappeared on May 19 with 66 passengers and crew on board, while flying from Paris to Cairo. The remains of the Airbus 320, including the critical "black boxes," had been missing for weeks.

Authorities said Wednesday that main sections of the jetliner have been located in the Mediterranean, but the exact coordinates weren't immediately revealed.

CNN attributed statements on the wreckage's location to the Egyptian government.

The discovery was made with nearly no time left on the power supply for the locator beacons on the boxes -- the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder -- which typically emit a signal for 30 days after a crash. That 30-day window would have closed on Sunday.

Relatives and friends of passengers aboard EgyptAir Flight 804 await information outside the EgyptAir in-flight service building at the airport in Cairo, Egypt, on May 19, 2016. The flight, from Paris to Cairo with 66 on board, crashed into the Mediterranean Sea off the Greek island of Crete. Photo by Karem Ahmed/UPI

Search teams will next map the debris field, a standard procedure, to help investigators learn as much as they can about the plane's crash.

It's unlikely recovery teams will raise every piece of wreckage from the sea floor, but accident authorities will at least target the pieces most critical to the investigation and try to recover as many human remains as possible.

For weeks, remote-controlled underwater search equipment had been looking along areas that officials believed the plane crashed. But as the sea floor is about 2 miles deep, it has been a challenging environment. One of the vessels detected a ping from one of the plane's recorders about two weeks ago.

Investigators should be able to glean plenty of additional data from the flight recorders, if they haven't been destroyed. So far, officials know only that smoke detectors on the jetliner went off in the cabin during the flight's final minutes -- information that is automatically recorded and communicated to the carrier while planes are in flight.

Investigators also know that the plane's pilots did not issue a distress call before the crash.

Officials should also be able to gain additional insight of the crash by studying the debris field on the seabed, which offers clues as to how the plane came apart.

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