CAIRO. â€” Human remains retrieved from the crash site of EgyptAir Flight 804 have burn marks and are very small in size, suggesting an explosion on board may have downed the aircraft in the east Mediterranean, a senior Egyptian forensics official said Tuesday.
â€œThe logical explanation is that an explosion brought it down,â€ the official told The Associated Press.
The official, who is part of the Egyptian team investigating the crash that killed all 66 people on board the flight from Paris to Cairo early last Thursday, has personally examined the remains at a Cairo morgue. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to release the information.
However, the head of the governmentâ€™s forensic agency later Tuesday dismissed as speculation all media reports about human remains from the crash indicating an explosion.
â€œWhatever has been published is baseless and mere assumptions,â€ Hisham Abdel-Hamid told Egyptâ€™s state MENA news agency.
A statement from the governmentâ€™s investigative committee also warned media outlets to be cautious about what is published â€œto avoid chaos and spreading false rumors and damaging the stateâ€™s high interests and national security.â€
The Egyptian expert told the AP that all 80 pieces that have been brought to Cairo so far are very small. â€œThere isnâ€™t even a whole body part, like an arm or a head,â€ said the official, adding that one piece was the left part of a head.
He said the body parts are â€œso tinyâ€ and that at least one piece of a human arm has signs of burns – an indication it might have â€œbelonged to a passenger sitting next to the explosion.â€
â€œBut I cannot say what caused the blast,â€ he said. He did not say whether traces of explosives were found on the human remains retrieved so far.
The expertâ€™s comments mark a new dramatic twist surrounding last weekâ€™s crash, which still remains a mystery. The planeâ€™s black boxes have yet to be found and photographs of retrieved debris published by the Egyptian military over the weekend were not charred and appear to show no signs of fire.
Egyptian officials have said they believe terrorism is a more likely explanation than equipment failure, or some other catastrophic event, and some aviation experts have said the erratic flight reported by the Greek defense minister suggests a bomb blast or a struggle in the cockpit.
But so far no hard evidence has emerged on the cause of the disaster.
Also Tuesday, the investigative team led by Ayman al-Moqadem issued its second report on the case, saying that so far pieces of the plane wreckage have been taken to Cairo in 18 batches. It added that the priority is to locate the black boxes and to retrieve more bodies.
Franceâ€™s aviation accident investigation agency would not comment on anything involving the bodies or say whether any information has surfaced in the investigation to indicate an explosion.
A French patrol boat took one doctor on board to help with searches when and if the body parts are found. But the French Navy said that if it finds debris and body parts, this would be first reported to Egyptian authorities and French justice officials.
In a search for clues, family members of the victims gave been arriving during the day Tuesday at the Cairo morgue forensicsâ€™ department to give DNA samples to help identify the remains of their kin, a security official said. The official also spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to reporters. – AP