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EgyptAir flight MS804 : Smoke detected inside cabin before crash

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CAIRO — The French aviation safety agency confirmed media reports of smoke in the cabin before the plane crashed into the Mediterranean, killing all 66 people on board.

“There were ACAR [Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System] messages transmitted by the plane, showing that there was smoke in the cabin, shortly before data transmission broke off,” a spokesman of France’s Bureau of Investigations and Analysis (BEA) said.

ACAR is a digital system that transmits short messages between aircraft and ground stations.

The spokesman said it was “far too soon to interpret and understand the cause of Thursday’s accident, as long as we have not found the wreckage or the flight data recorders”.

The signals indicated there was smoke in the front toilets near the cockpit, an expert told AFP.

According to the specialised aviation website Avherald, the ACAR messages read “smoke lavatory smoke” then “avionics smoke” — referring to the plane’s electronic systems — then a “fault” with the FCU, the pilots’ flight control unit in the cockpit.

The warnings began about three minutes before air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said that no theory on the cause of the EgyptAir crash had been ruled out, following the revelations of the smoke in the cabin.

“At this time… all theories are being examined and none is favoured,” he told a news conference after meeting with relatives of passengers who were aboard the doomed A320.

The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, earlier reported that automated warning messages indicated smoke in the nose of the aircraft and an apparent problem with the flight control system.

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The messages indicated intense smoke in the front portion of the plane, specifically the lavatory and the equipment compartment beneath the cockpit.

The error warnings also indicated the flight control computer malfunctioned, the report said.

CNN also reported smoke alerts on the flight minutes before it crashed, citing an Egyptian source.

The editor of Aviation Security International Magazine, Philip Baum, said the smoke indicated the plane was probably not hijacked.

But he said it was still possible there was a bomb on board or the smoke was caused by a technical fire.
A spokesman for the BEA said the priority now was to find the two flight recorders, known as black boxes, containing cockpit voice recordings and data readings.

The plane is believed to have come down in a deep part of the Mediterranean, in 2,000 to 3,000 metres of water, according to a source familiar with Western naval estimates.

That would place the black box locator beacons, which last for 30 days, on the edge of their detectable range from the surface, using acoustic equipment typically used during the first stages of a search, according to a report into the 2009 crash of an Air France jet in the Atlantic.

On Friday, search teams found wreckage including seats and luggage about 290 kilometres north of Egypt’s coastal city of Alexandria, Egypt’s military said.

The plane disappeared without any distress signal between the Greek island of Karpathos and the Egyptian coast.

It had turned sharply twice in Egyptian airspace before plunging 6,700m and vanishing from radar screens, Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said.

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AFP

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5 dead as gunman attacks churchgoers in Russia

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At least five people were killed and another five were injured when a gunman attacked a crowd of people leaving a church on Sunday in Russia’s southern province of Dagestan, Russian news agencies reported.

The attack occurred in the village of Kizlyar in the Muslim-majority republic of Dagestan.

Russian news agencies said the attack occurred as churchgoers celebrated Maslenitsa, a Christian holiday marking the last day before Lent according to the eastern Orthodox calendar.

CCTV footage from the site of the deadly shooting shows a man armed with a rifle gunning down two women in broad daylight.

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A bearded man clad in a black vest and camouflage pants was seen crossing the street before opening fire on two female churchgoers as they left a service in Kizlyar in the Republic of Dagestan on Sunday afternoon. A woman walking several meters from the attacker was seen rushing away as the bloodshed unfolded.

The attacker was identified as a 22-year-old man local to the region, the TASS news agency said, citing the investigative committee.

He was shot and killed by security services who were on duty nearby, TASS said, adding that a hunting rifle, bullets and a knife were discovered on his person.

Initial reports suggested all five victims were women, TASS said, citing the local branch of the interior ministry.

Agencies

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