Wreckage of crashed EgyptAir plane found in Mediterranean

An EgyptAir plane is seen on the runway at Cairo Airport, Egypt in this September 5, 2013 ...

Nasser Hammad, heading home for a family vacation in Egypt, disappeared without a trace last month when EgyptAir Flight 804 plunged into the Mediterranean Sea on a flight from Paris to Cairo. Discovery of the plane’s wreckage on the sea floor — announced Wednesday — has raised hope that an explanation for the doomed jet’s mysterious disappearance, and the loss of all 66 people aboard, eventually may be found.

Hammad’s brother Tarek said in a telephone interview, “We can’t even prove he is dead until now to sort out post-death legal matters for his family and five children.”

The friend of another crash victim, Mahmoud Elsayyad, who was traveling to Egypt to see his three children, complained that authorities have told the families little more than “wait and see what will happen.”

“They are in heaven, I agree,” said the friend, named Arafat. “But why are we being kept in hell?”

Relatives and friends of the other victims also have spoken of their frustration about a lack of information, but Egypt’s announcement late Wednesday that the wreckage has now been located deep in the Mediterranean may lead to closure for the families.

A research vessel with deep-water search capabilities spotted “several main locations” of wreckage and photographed the discoveries, the committee investigating the Airbus A320’s disappearance announced in Egypt.

The M.V. John Lethridge, a British-built vessel capable of searching waters up to 6,000 meters deep, has investigators aboard who are mapping the wreckage sites, officials said. The 1,850-ton ship is owned by Global Marine Systems, based in Britain, and sails under a Panamanian flag. (Earlier reports said the ship was French.)

Egyptian officials are preparing to move fast to recover the wreckage — in particular, the jet’s flight recorders — in the hope of pinpointing what brought the plane down on May 19. No possible cause for the crash, including terrorism, has yet been ruled out.

The jet’s data and voice recorders are equipped with battery-powered sounders to guide searchers, but there are fears the battery-powered signals will fade out by about June 24. To recover the equipment up to 3,000 meters below the surface of the sea, investigators hope they can track the faint “pings” to within a few meters of the recorders’ location.

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