The Egyptian military said Friday that it had located wreckage from EgyptAir flight 804 in the Mediterranean Sea.
Egyptian army spokesman Brig. Gen. Mohammed Samir said in a statement posted on his Facebook page that Egyptian jets and naval vessels found “personal belongings of the passengers and parts of the plane debris,” 180 miles north of the Egyptian port city of Alexandria.
Searchers had been looking at a wide area south of the Greek island of Crete for the Airbus A320, which was nearing the end of its scheduled flight from Paris to Cairo early Thursday when contact was lost.
Egyptian aviation officials believed that debris from the plane had been found Thursday, but were forced to retract that claim hours later after their Greek counterparts said the debris did not belong to the aircraft.
If the debris found Friday is confirmed to be from the EgyptAir flight, searchers will turn their focus to recovering the cockpit voice and data recorders in an effort to determine the cause of the tragedy.
The Associated Press, citing Egyptian airport officials, reported Friday that three French and three British investigators and an AirBus technical expert have arrived in Cairo to join an investigation into the plane crash.
Authorities have said it is too early to definitively determine what happened to flight 804. Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said Thursday that the plane swerved wildly before plummeting into the sea.
The Egyptian military said that no distress call was received from the pilot. The country’s aviation minister Sherif Fathy said the likelihood the plane was brought down by a terror attack is “higher than the possibility of a technical failure.”
Earlier Friday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told France-2 television there was “absolutely no indication” of what caused the crash, while the country’s junior minister for transport, Alain Vidalies, added that “”no theory is favored” at this stage and urged “the greatest caution.”
Elsewhere in Paris, French authorities scoured Charles de Gaulle Airport, the country’s main hub, for any sign of a security breach prior to the flight’s departure. Reuters reported that investigators were interviewing officers who were on duty at the airport Wednesday night to determine whether they heard or saw anything suspicious.
“We are in the early stages here,” a police source told Reuters about the investigation.
The Wall Street Journal reported that French investigators were poring over surveillance footage from the airport, as well as performing background checks of those on board the plane and anyone who may have had ground access to the aircraft.
France remains under a state of emergency after attacks by ISIS terrorists killed 130 people in Paris this past November and authorities are sensitive to the possibility of airport workers using their clearances to commit harm.
The Journal reported Thursday that 85 French airport workers have had their security badges withdrawn or blocked because they are on government watch lists for radicalism. Another 600 have lost their clearances due to criminal records.
On Friday, Vidalies defended security at Charles de Gaulle, saying staff badges are revoked if there is the slightest security doubt.
In the U.S., Los Angeles International Airport announced Thursday that it was stepping up security in the wake of the EgyptAir disappearance. A statement from airport authorites said they were eliminating or restricting airport worker access to 150 doors in the terminals. The statement also said additional airport police officers had been assigned to monitor employee access points and conduct random screenings.