Egypt's Forensic Medicine Authority chief Hisham Abdul Hamid dismissed reports that an initial examination of human remains from the downed EgyptAir Flight MS 804 suggested there had been an explosion. The Associated Press (AP) had earlier quoted an unnamed Egyptian official as saying the remains were so small that an explosion was the only logical explanation.
"Everything published about this matter is completely false, and mere assumptions that did not come from the Forensic Medicine Authority" Abdul Hamid said, according to the BBC. All 66 people on board the Paris to Cairo Flight MS804 were killed when the flight plummeted into the Mediterranean Sea on 19 May.
Early on Tuesday (24 May), the AP quoted a source said to be a senior Egyptian forensic official who was part of the Egyptian team investigating the crash. "The logical explanation is that an explosion brought it down," the official told the AP.
The official said he had personally examined the human remains, which he described as having burn marks and being "very tiny". "There isn't even a whole body part, like an arm or a head," the official said. "But I cannot say what caused the blast."
A US official reportedly told Fox News, "All signs continue to point to terrorism." The US official said that US satellites could have missed a potential explosion because they would most likely be focused on positions on land and known areas of interest.
Meanwhile Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukri, told NBC News that terrorism could not be ruled out as a cause for the crashed plane although terrorist groups have yet to claim responsibility. "I don't want to speculate related to the cause. It might be terrorism, it might be technical or any third possibility," Shoukri said.
The foreign minister warned that terrorist may claim responsibility without proof or remain silent to "create a high sense of confusion." Shoukri declined to rule out the possibility of an explosion led to the downing of the Airbus A320 amid the confusion from the AP's report and subsequent denial by other Egyptian officials.
According to NBC News, Shoukri said there was nothing that "leads to that direction" of an explosion. However he also noted that the possibility of a blast should not be dismissed since the cause of the crash remains unclear. "It remains high on the priority list in terms of potential and possible causes," he said.
On Monday (23 May), Egyptian officials dismissed an account by Greece's defence minister that the plane had turned twice before plunging into the sea. Greek Defence Minister, Panos Kammenos, said the radar revealed the flight made two sharp turns and dropped more than 25,000ft before hitting the sea. However, Ehab Azmy - the head of Egypt's state-run provider of air navigation services - told the AP the plane was flying at its normal height of 37,000ft before disappearing.
Debris and human remains have been recovered from the sea, about 180 miles north of the city of Alexandria, Egypt. However, the plane's main body and two "black box" recorders have not been located.
Egypt deployed a submarine over the weekend to search for the missing flight recorders, which has 30 days to find the crashed plane's black box, after which the recorders' batteries will stop emitting a location signal.