The federal government on Friday confirmed that a man with a dual Australia-UK citizenship was on board the EgyptAir flight MS804 that went missing over the Mediterranean on Thursday. According to Egypt’s Aviation Minister Sharif Fathy, a terrorist attack could be one of the possible reasons for the plane’s disappearance.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in a statement that the Australian government is working with the UK authorities to provide assistance to the man. “My thoughts are with the families and friends of those affected,” The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Bishop as saying in a statement.
Fathy spoke of a possible terror attack that may have sent the plane off the radar. But he also noted that it is too early to conclude.
“I don’t deny the hypothesis of a terrorist attack or something technical. It is too early,” the ABC quoted Fathy as saying. “The possibility of … having a terror attack, it is higher than the possibility of having a technical [failure]”.
He added that so far there are no indications of a security concern around anyone on board.
The news came as the EgyptAir dismissed the debris found in the Mediterranean Sea to be of its missing flight that was carrying 66 people.
“Up to now the analysis of the debris indicates that it does not come from a plane,” Athanasios Binis, the head of the Greek Air Accident Investigation and Aviation Safety Board, told the AFP as quoted by the ABC. “My Egyptian counterpart also confirmed to me that it was not yet proven that the debris came from the EgyptAir flight when we were last in contact. What was found was a piece of wood and some materials that do not come from a plane.”
He added, “Based on the available geographical information, we are talking about the same debris.”
In an earlier statement, the airlines said that debris from its missing plane was found near the Greek island of Karpathos. The Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry said that the Greek authorities found floating materials and life jackets believed to be from the plane on Thursday.
“All I will say is that our embassy in Athens told us that it was contacted by Greek authorities, who signalled that they found white and blue debris corresponding to EgyptAir’s colours,” Egyptian ambassador to France Ehab Badawy said on France’s BFM television.
The plane flying from Paris to Cairo disappeared from the radar at about 2:45 a.m. (local time) when it was 16 kilometres into Egyptian air space. According to EgyptAir Vice-Chairman Ahmed Adel, the search and rescue operation has turned into a recovery mission.