Skip to comments.Boats Resume Search for Bodies From Plane Crash; Switzerland Says It Banned Airline a Year Ago
Posted on 01/04/2004 2:32:44 AM PST by BenLurkin
Rescuers on Sunday resumed searching for bodies after a charter jet full of French tourists crashed into the Red Sea, killing all 148 people aboard. Switzerland, meanwhile, revealed that it had banned the airline more than a year ago because of safety problems.
Flash Airlines flight FSH604, bound for Paris with a stopover in Cairo, crashed early Saturday, minutes after taking off from the airport at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheik. Officials blamed mechanical failure.
Search crews on military and civilian vessels have found only small pieces of wreckage and "very few" body parts from the shark-infested waters near the resort, an official of Egypt's Environment Protection Department said on condition of anonymity.
Egyptian officials said the Flash Airlines jet, an 11-year-old Boeing 737, had checked out fine before the flight. But Swiss aviation authorities said Sunday they had banned Flash from flying into Switzerland for more than a year because of technical worries. "A series of safety shortcomings showed up in a plane of Flash Airlines during a routine security check at Zurich Airport in October 2002," Celestine Perissinotto, spokeswoman for the Swiss Federal Office for Civil Aviation, told The Associated Press.
She declined to go into detail and didn't know what type of plane had problems in Switzerland. Flash Airlines, which has been in business for six years, said in Egypt that the Boeing 737 that crashed was one of two it owned.
The Egyptian government has said the crash was an accident apparently caused by a mechanical problem. It came amid worldwide security alerts for terror threats in the skies.
Search teams also were seeking the "black box" flight data recorders to provide more details about the cause of the crash, Egyptian Aviation Minister Ahmed Shafeeq said.
Tourists in swimsuits and TV crews with satellite dishes watched from the beach Sunday as searchers circled the waters in small boats.
French Deputy Foreign Minister Renaud Muselier told reporters in Sharm el-Sheik, about 300 miles southeast of Cairo near the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula, that the human remains found were so badly mangled that it would be difficult to identify them.
"We were able to see the bags full of body parts, Muselier said, choking back tears after visiting a hospital morgue. "It was terrible to see."
The pilot tried to turn back after detecting problems on takeoff and was making the turn when the plane plunged into the sea, French and Egyptian officials said Saturday.
The environment protection official said rescue workers believed the fuselage of the Boeing 737 was resting in 2,600 feet of water. The depth of the water was hampering search efforts, Shafeeq said.
The search was suspended Saturday night but resumed at daybreak Sunday with four aircraft and 40 boats searching a 4-square-mile expanse of sea.
The governor of South Sinai, Mostafa Afifi, told Egyptian state television that the plane hit the sea so hard that everything shattered. "We can't say that we have found bodies as bodies. We have found 11 to 13 bodies but in pieces," he said.
A French investigation team was expected to arrive later Sunday and French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin declared the nation in mourning. The United States also was sending an accident investigator.
A French Foreign Ministry spokesman said 133 French tourists were on the flight. One Japanese, one Moroccan, and 13 Egyptian crew members also were on the flight, Shafeeq said.
Most of the passengers were on a tour organized by FRAM, one of France's largest travel operators. FRAM said it had 125 people - mostly families or groups of friends - on the flight. Some were children.
Shafeeq said Saturday the plane checked out fine before takeoff. "The first indications suggest a technical fault," he said.
Radar images showed that the plane turned left as normal after takeoff, then suddenly straightened out and turned right before plunging into the sea, Shafeeq said.
The jet arrived at the resort early Saturday from Venice, Italy, dropping off passengers in Sharm el-Sheik, the airline said. New passengers then boarded for the flight to Paris via Cairo. The airplane underwent maintenance checks in Norway and the most recent one showed no problems, officials said.
Perissinotto said the Swiss report had been given to the airline and to Egyptian civil aviation authorities.
The airline has been banned from entering or flying over Switzerland since October 2002, but one of its planes was allowed to make a landing in Geneva last year for exceptional reasons, she added.
That plane was supposed to land in Paris but was diverted to Geneva because of bad weather, she said.
Swiss authorities demanded that the airline explain why it needed to land in Geneva, but "these explanations were also insufficient. The situation had not improved," Perissinotto said.
Saturday's crash was Egypt's biggest aviation disaster since 1999, when an EgyptAir jetliner crashed shortly after leaving New York en route to Cairo, killing all 217 people aboard.
Flight 587, Flight 800, .........
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Ah, an airplane equivalent of a hoopty.
"tough" --- what do you mean? "Tough" as 'in depth', honest, and competent investigation, or "tough" as in tough to get to any truth, or as in coverup?
Yep, looked like it to the first N.Y. witness reports of the explosion near the middle of the plane.
To me there is little doubt what happened here. But there will soon be the guys coming on this thread who will pose as the level-headed, don't jump to conclusions pseudo-adults, imploring that all those who dare suggest that indications seem that the crash could be caused by terrorism are nutballs.
I've seen this before, immediate declarations by governments involved that it was mechanical trouble, and those declarations have usually been the first steps in the old coverup game. Oh well, let them lie.
'Something's happening to the flight' she said. Then there were screams...
Security around the Prime Minister was immediately stepped up as the Blairs ended their Christmas and New Year break. The disaster happened hours before Cherie Blair and her four children were due to fly home to London using the airport from which the crashed plane departed.
--------- Seen this?
I find the lack of CURIOSITY shown in the (lack of)reporting of this (especially by FoxNews) odd and appalling. Do you suppose FoxNews is in the 'we have no questions/no terrorism cause camp', because they don't want to promote the terrorism angle in order to protect G.W. Just asking.
But, the coverage of this story is very "directed" by somebody, for sure. Being a news junkie, I've seen it before, and I know what I'm seeing.
Love that screen name -- again! I might name my next daughter that. ;)
Yep I have. I have studied probability and numbers for decades. These circumstances point more likely to terrorism, IMO. But no one will ever admit it. The cause will be something like that out of control food cart that barrelled forward to the cockpit door, broke through causing the plane to go out of control and into the drink........all this without a distress call. Sounds good to me.
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