Last Thursday, an EgyptAir plane travelling from Paris to Cairo crashed in the Mediterranean Sea. Egyptian, French and Greek officials are investigating the debris to confirm the cause of the crash. This is the second plane crash to hit Egypt in the last seven months. Egyptian officials believe the crash to be an act of terrorism, resurfacing concern about the security of Egyptian aviation.
The EgyptAir plane carried fifty-six passengers and ten crew members. Although most passengers were Egyptian, there were passengers from France, Britain and Canada as well as many Middle Eastern and North African countries. The aircraft swerved and plunged from 37,000 to 10,000 feet before it dropped off radar and eventually plummeted into the Mediterranean.
France sent a ship and two specialist divers to look for debris and the plane’s blackbox, which would elucidate the causes of the plane crash. EgyptAir reports that the Egyptian military found passengers’ personal belongings, body parts, luggage, and aircraft seats. However, there is not enough information to fully explain the disaster.
The Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry organized a committee headed by Ayman al-Moqadem to investigate the plane crash further. The committee is also looking into a similar crash of a Russian Metrojet airliner over the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt last October, which all 224 passengers died. The Islamic State, which was fighting the Egyptian military in the Sinai Peninsula, had claimed responsibility for the crash then.
Investigators believe that the disaster in Egypt was caused by a pilot error, a technical fault or an act of terrorism, such as a bomb or internal act of sabotage. Experts ruled out inclement weather because there were clear skies over the Mediterranean on the night of the crash.
Nonetheless, given “the nature of the way the plane went down — the way it veered and then fell out of the sky,” Egyptian officials have told investigators that they strongly suspect a terrorist attack. The French President, François Hollande, also suggested the likelihood of terrorism, saying, “when we have the truth, we must draw all the conclusions, whether it is an accident or another hypothesis that everybody has in mind: the terrorist hypothesis.”
There has been no evidence to implicate any part of the crew. Although American investigators suggested that the pilot intentionally flew the plane into the Mediterranean, the Egyptian government dismissed the theory of suicide.
The EgyptAir plane crash has rekindled fear of terrorism and raised concern about the susceptibility of civilian travel to militant extremist groups.