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Families Give DNA to Help ID Victims; Still No Cause of EgyptAir 804 Disaster

  • VOA News

FILE - Loved ones grieve during prayers for the departed, remembering the victims of EgyptAir flight 804 in Cairo, Egypt, May 22, 2016.

FILE - Loved ones grieve during prayers for the departed, remembering the victims of EgyptAir flight 804 in Cairo, Egypt, May 22, 2016.

Family members of EgyptAir Flight 804 victims gave DNA samples to authorities Tuesday to help identify body parts recovered from the Mediterranean.

In an emailed statement to the French news agency AFP, the airline said, "DNA samples have been collected from the victims' families."

Investigators are still working to find out why the Airbus 320 jet vanished from radar last Thursday and crashed, killing all 66 people on the flight from Paris to Cairo.

The head of Egypt's forensics unit has dismissed a theory that the small size of the body parts retrieved indicated an explosion occurred on board.

An Egyptian official said a total of 23 bags of body parts have been retrieved since Sunday. Speaking on condition of anonymity to Reuters, the official said the largest of the body parts was no bigger than the palm of a hand.

Sources also said it is premature to assume that an explosion occurred.

"All we know is it disappeared suddenly without making a distress call," a source told Reuters, adding that only by analyzing the two black boxes or a large amount of debris could officials get an idea of what took place during the plane's last minutes.

Egypt Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy has said a terrorist attack is a more likely cause of the crash than technical failure. So far, however, no evidence has emerged as to what brought down the plane.

No militant group has claimed to have carried out an attack.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi said a submersible that can operate at 3,000 meters below the sea was deployed to assist in the hunt for the black boxes that contain the jet’s recorded data.

"I will say that when an airplane disappears at 37,000 feet [11.28 km], it's a highly unusual event," aviation consultant Scott Hamilton of the Leeham Company told VOA. "It either typically indicates a catastrophic failure, catastrophic emergency of some kind, or, as we know from not too long ago, a bomb could go off. ... But you just have to be cautious and not jump to any conclusions at this point."

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