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EgyptAir crash: What we know

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French experts confirmed Saturday that smoke had been detected in the cabin of an EgyptAir plane that crashed into the eastern Mediterranean carrying 66 people, but what brought it down remains a mystery.

Here is what we know so far:

What happened?

The crash of an EgyptAir passenger plane near a Greek island en route from Paris to Cairo with 66 people aboard remains unexplained

The crash of an EgyptAir passenger plane near a Greek island en route from Paris to Cairo with 66 people aboard remains unexplained ©Khaled Desouki (AFP/File)

EgyptAir flight MS804 disappeared off the radar 0029 GMT on Thursday morning while flying over the eastern Mediterranean en route from Paris to Cairo.

The Airbus A320, which was carrying 56 passengers and 10 crew members, had just crossed from Greek airspace into Egyptian airspace and was about 35 minutes from its destination.

About three minutes before it disappeared off the radar, the plane transmitted a number of automatic messages indicating there was smoke in the cabin, France’s air safety agency said on Saturday.

The signals indicated there was smoke in the front toilets near the cockpit, smoke in the electronic systems and a “fault” with the pilots’ flight control unit in the cockpit, an expert told AFP.

The plane did not send out a distress signal and crashed between the island of Karpathos and the Egyptian coastline, Greek aviation officials told AFP.

Wreckage from the plane, luggage and body parts were found in the sea on Friday by an Egyptian military search team in an area about 290 kilometres (180 miles) north of the coastal city of Alexandria.

How it happened

The pilot’s last contact with Greek air traffic controllers was around 0005 GMT when he appeared to be in good spirits and made no mention of any problem.

But it ran into trouble just over 20 minutes later as it was flying at 37,000 feet, (more than 11,200 metres) with Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos saying the plane swerved sharply to the left, then to the right, falling 22,000 feet, before disappearing from radar screens at around 10,000 feet.

Why it did not send out a distress signal remains unclear. And investigators so far have no indication as to what caused the plane to suddenly swerve before plummeting out of the sky.

Although the presence of smoke in the cabin may help the probe, experts will only be able to piece together a fuller picture when more wreckage is found, including the black boxes.

Was it brought down deliberately?

Egypt’s aviation minister said a “terrorist attack” was a more likely cause than technical failure for the crash, voicing widely-held fears of a repeat of an October attack over Sinai that brought down a Russian passenger jet, killing 224 people.

Aviation experts agree there is little chance that a mechanical fault, such as the explosion of an engine, was responsible. And they say it is unlikely the plane was shot down.

But despite fears the plane was deliberately brought down, there is no evidence so far to support that thesis.

“We have absolutely no indication on the causes,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Friday.

Was the plane safe?

Airbus delivered the plane to EgyptAir in November 2003 and it had logged 48,000 hours of flying time. Experts say the A320 has an excellent safety record as the best-selling medium-range airliner in the world, with one taking off or landing around the world every 30 seconds.

Before taking off from Paris on Wednesday evening, the plane had been in Eritrea, Egypt and Tunisia, according to the website FlightRadar24.

It began the day in the Eritrean capital Asmara, then returned to Cairo before flying to Tunis. It then headed back to Cairo where it stayed for two hours before flying to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. It took off from the French capital at 2100 GMT and was to have landed in Cairo at 0105 GMT on Thursday.

What remains unclear is whether the plane was checked at each location, or how thoroughly.

A French serviceman flies on the Atlantic 2 maritime patrol aircraft to take part in a search operation for the missing EgyptAir plane

EgyptAir passengers ©Alain Bommenel (AFP)

Relatives of passengers who were flying in an EgyptAir plane that vanished from radar en route from Paris to Cairo react as they wait outside a services hall...

A French serviceman flies on the Atlantic 2 maritime patrol aircraft to take part in a search operation for the missing EgyptAir plane

©HO (Egyptian military spokesman's facebook page/AFP)

©HO (Egyptian military spokesman’s facebook page/AFP)

 

 

 

Politics

Court mulls moving Netanyahu’s trial to new location

Netanyahu, who denies wrongdoing, faces charges of fraud and breach of trust in all the cases, as well as bribery in one of them.

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Netanyahu Israel

Jerusalem, May 26 : Officials were considering moving the corruption trial of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from the Jerusalem District Court to a different location due to the turmoil caused by having to secure the site for the premier, it was reported.

Netanyahu was required to attend the opening hearing of his trial on Sunday, which involved a major security operation and the closure of roads in the area around the courthouse.

The court was not able hear any other cases at the time, The Times of Israel reported on Monday citing the Hebrew language Channel 12 as saying.

In a meeting on Monday, the court officials reviewed the events of the previous day and in the coming weeks the administration, together with Jerusalem District Court President Aharon Farkash and the three judges presiding over the trial, will decided whether to relocate for the rest of the proceedings, the Channel 12 report said.

Netanyahu on Sunday became the first serving Israeli premier to stand trial.

The Prime Minister, who was sworn back into office as head of a rare national unity government last week, will be allowed to skip the next hearing, which will take place on July 19, with the judges saying he would not have to return to court until the evidence stage, said The Times of Israel.

Netanyahu, who denies wrongdoing, faces charges of fraud and breach of trust in all the cases, as well as bribery in one of them.

Before entering the courtroom on Sunday, he told the media that the cases against him were fabricated and part of an attempted “political coup” to oust him from power.

According to Israeli law, a Prime Minister charged with a crime is not required to resign.

Even if he is convicted, Netanyahu will not be required to resign unless and until any appeals are exhausted, reports the BBC.

Under the unity government deal with former political rival Benny Gantz, a new role of “alternate prime minister” was created, which means when the two men switch positions in 18 months’ time.

Netanyahu will still occupy a prime ministerial office and stay on as Gantz’s deputy.

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Disaster

Indian COVID-19 survivor falls to death in Dubai

The victim had tested positive for COVID-19 on April 10. On May 7, he was discharged from a Dubai hospital after clearing all tests.

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Coronavirus Death US

Dubai, May 26 : An Indian expat, who recently recovered from COVID-19, fell to his death from a building in Dubai, police said.

The 26-year-old Indian national from Kerala, fell from the seventh floor balcony of his building where he stayed with six others, including a relative.

A Dubai Police official confirmed the incident to Gulf News on Monday and said it had been a suicide.

“He was suffering from a mental disorder and there is no criminal suspicions behind his death,” said the official.

“The incident happened on Sunday,” the official confirmed.

The victim’s relative said: “(He) awoke early to perform prayers and everyone was getting on with their daily morning chores when he walked to the balcony and jumped.

“He was suffering from a mental disorder and had been disturbed for some time. He thought everyone was out to attack him and had stopped eating his food as he thought people were feeding him poison. He was refusing to even take water from us.”

The victim had tested positive for COVID-19 on April 10. On May 7, he was discharged from a Dubai hospital after clearing all tests.

The relative told Gulf News that he had registered the victim in the Department of Non-Resident Keralites Affairs (NORKA) last month in order to repatriate him, however he was unsuccessful in procuring a ticket.

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World

Sourth Korea’s 2nd phase of school reopening set for Wednesday

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South Korean Kids

Seoul, May 26 : South Korea is on track for its second phase of school reopening on Wednesday, bringing back more than 2 million students to their schools nationwide amid the new coronavirus pandemic.

School reopening is considered one of the most important steps in the government’s “everyday life quarantine” scheme, which was introduced on May 6, Yonhap News Agency reported on Tuesday.

The scheme is designed to help people learn to live with the virus and resume normal life amid relaxed social distancing.

Under the government’s phased school reopening plan, schools are scheduled to resume in-person classes for the two lowest grades of elementary school, kindergarten students, middle school seniors and second-year high school students.

The estimated number of affected students amounts to 2.37 million.

About 440,000 high school seniors returned to school last week after more than two months of delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The resumption of in-person classes, however, has faced hurdles.

The latest came on Monday when a six-year-old kindergarten boy tested positive for COVID-19.

Last week, dozens of schools in Incheon and Daegu were also closed following several infections involving high school students.

To monitor and tackle potential outbreaks at schools, the Education Ministry is in close coordination with the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) and provincial education offices, said the Yonhap News Agency report.

The government is also expected to unveil a set of revised quarantine and disinfection guidelines on Wednesday in time for the second phase of the reopening.

It reassured the public that the second phase will go off without a major hitch.

As of Tuesday, South Korea has 11,225 COVID-19 cases, with 269 deaths.

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