Did blast cause crash that killed P&G worker?

Posted at 12:40 PM, May 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-24 12:40:42-04

Egyptian officials said forensics evidence shows an explosion may have caused the plane crash that killed a Procter & Gamble employee and 65 others last week. 

Human remains recovered from EgyptAir Flight 804 are small in size and have burn marks, a senior Egyptian forensics official said Tuesday. Ahmed Helal, a plant manager at Procter & Gamble's office in Amiens, France, and 65 others were aboard the flight when it made two abrupt turns, dropped from 38,000 to 15,000 feet and plummeted into the east Mediterranean on May 19.

"The logical explanation is that an explosion brought it down," the official told The Associated Press.

The official, who is part of the Egyptian team investigating the crash, has personally examined the remains at a Cairo morgue. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

The Egyptian expert said all 80 pieces brought to Cairo so far are very small.

"There isn't even a whole body part, like an arm or a head," the official said. He added that one piece was the left part of a head.

A Facebook page for Helal lists him as a resident of France who was born in Alexandria, Egypt. He studied mechanical engineering at American University of Cairo and was married and a father. Jones said Helal was a manager at P&G's fabric care plant in France. The plant is one of the largest in the world and ships Mr. Clean, Febreze, Ariel, Dash and Gama products.

Helal has worked with P&G since July 2000 when he started as a packing lines manager at a plant in Egypt, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Hisham Abdel-Hamid, head of the government’s forensic agency, said it is not confirmed that an explosion caused the crash.

"Whatever has been published is baseless and mere assumptions," he told Egypt's state MENA news agency.

A statement from the government's investigative committee cautioned media outlets about what is published "to avoid chaos and spreading false rumors and damaging the state's high interests and national security."

Whatever caused Flight 804 to go down remains a mystery. The Egyptian military said it did not receive a distress call the day of the crash. The absence of a distress call and the plane’s erratic course suggests that whatever sent the aircraft plummeting into the sea was sudden and brief, such as a mechanical or structural failure or a struggle over controls in the cockpit.

Egyptian officials have said they believe terrorism is a more likely explanation than equipment failure. Some aviation experts have said the erratic flight pattern suggests a bomb blast or a struggle in the cockpit.

An investigative team led by Ayman al-Moqadem issued its second report on the case, saying that so far pieces of the plane wreckage have been taken to Cairo in 18 batches. The report added that the priority is to locate the black boxes to determine the cause of the crash and to retrieve more bodies.

A security official at the Cairo morgue forensics' department said family members of the victims have been giving DNA samples to help identify recovered remains.iThe official also spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

Egypt has dispatched a submarine to search for the flight's black boxes. A French ship joined the effort to locate the the plane's data recorders.

Britain, Cyprus, France, Greece and the United States have also sent ships to search for the debris from the aircraft, including the data recorders.