Egypt to hand over remains of MS804 air crash victims to relatives

Egyptians light candles during a candlelight vigil for the 66 victims of the EgyptAir MS804 flight that crashed in the Mediterranean Sea, at the Cairo Opera House in the Egyptian capital on May 26, 2016. (AFP)

Egypt’s state prosecutor has ordered that the remains of victims from the crash of EgyptAir flight 804 from Paris to Cairo be handed over to relatives, his office said Saturday. The Airbus A320 had been en route on May 19 when it crashed into the Mediterranean, killing all 66 on board, among them 40 Egyptians and 15 French nationals.

On Thursday, the aviation ministry in Cairo announced that traces of explosives had been found on the victims’ remains. But France’s air safety agency said it was not possible to determine what caused the crash, saying it did not have information on how the samples were collected.

The prosecutor ordered the return of remains “of Egyptian victims, and there is currently coordination with foreign embassies to turn over the remains of foreigners,” Saturday’s statement said. A lawyer for relatives of the French victims had said in September that there was nothing to “justify” the delay in handing over the remains.

Also read: Did the EgyptAir plane explode in the air?

France welcomed the decision on Saturday, and said it hoped it would be implemented as quickly as possible. “This is an important decision which the families have been looking forward to and the urgency of which has been stressed a number of times in recent months by the French authorities,” the foreign ministry in Paris said in a statement.

“The French authorities want this decision to be implemented as quickly as possible.” The plane airliner had also been carrying two Iraqis, two Canadians and one passenger each from Algeria, Belgium, Britain, Chad, Portugal, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. Aviation experts have said there is little chance that a mechanical fault was responsible for the disaster.

The plane only entered service in 2003, making it relatively new for an aircraft that tends to have an operational life of 30 to 40 years. It was flying at 37,000 feet and disappeared about 130 nautical miles off the Greek island of Karpathos. Investigators had determined that a fire broke out in or near the cockpit before the plane crashed between Crete and the coast of northern Egypt.

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Last Update: 05:30 KSA 08:30 - GMT 05:30
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