Human remains and personal belongings have been found among wreckage in the Mediterranean in the first confirmation that an EgyptAir jet with 66 people on board plunged into the sea.
Smoke was detected inside the cabin before crash which suggests a possible mechanical problem. No terrorist group has yet claimed responsiblity.
Unconfirmed reports about flight data from the Airbus plane that disappeared while flying from Paris to Cairo in the early hours of Thursday pointed to several problems that its pilot may have struggled with minutes before the crash.
“The Egyptian navy was able to retrieve more debris from the plane, some of the passengers’ belongings, human remains, and plane seats,” Egypt’s Civil Aviation Ministry said in a statement.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi offered condolences for those on board.
The navy was searching an area about 290 km (180 miles) north of Alexandria, just south of where the signal from the plane was lost early on Thursday.
There was no sign of the bulk of the wreckage, or of a location signal from the “black box” flight recorders that are likely to provide the best clues to the cause of the crash.
EgyptAir Chairman Safwat Moslem told state television that the radius of the search zone was 40 miles, giving an area of 5,000 square miles, but said it may be expanded.
A European satellite spotted a 2 km-long oil slick in the Mediterranean, about 40 km southeast of the aircraft’s last known position, the European Space Agency said.
Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said it was too early to rule out any cause for the crash. The aviation minister said a terrorist attack was more likely than a technical failure, but offered no evidence.