Items from missing EgyptAir jet found in Mediterranean

Last Updated May 20, 2016 11:01 AM EDT

CAIRO -- Egypt's military said Friday that parts of the missing EgyptAir flight 804 jet had been discovered in the Mediterranean, about 180 miles north of the Egyptian coast -- close to the area where the plane disappeared from radar early Thursday morning.

Greece's defense minister said later Friday morning that the Egyptian forces had also seen a body part in the water, along with two seats and suitcases.

"We were informed (by Egyptian authorities) that a body part, two seats and one or more items of luggage where found in the search area," French news agency AFP quoted Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos as saying at a news conference.

Egypt's civil aviation agency later said human remains, had been recovered, but it unusually cited the information to an anonymous source at the airline.

egyptairsearchap16141330400101.jpg

An Egyptian military vessel searches the Mediterranean Sea, May 19, 2016, for missing EgyptAir flight 804, which crashed early Thursday morning carrying 66 passengers and crew from Paris to Cairo.


AP/Egyptian Defense Ministry

The Egyptian military's statement, posted on social media, said aircraft and naval vessels had "managed to find some of the passengers' belongings as well as parts of the plane's fuselage in an area 290 kilometers (180 miles) north of Alexandria. Search efforts continue, and rescue teams are collecting whatever objects that are being found."

EgyptAir did issue a statement confirming those discoveries.

An Egyptian military spokesman also confirmed the discovery of passenger belongings separately to CBS News.

CBS News correspondent Holly Williams reports that search teams from Egypt, Greece, the U.S. and France were scouring the Mediterranean Sea again Friday for wreckage, and for any answers as to what brought the Airbus A320 down.

The plane was at its normal cruising altitude in Greek airspace when, sometime after 2 a.m. local time on Thursday, something catastrophic happened. Greek radar shows the plane turning abruptly 90 degrees to the left, then swinging through a tight 360-degree circle to the right, all while "dropping like a rock," according to one official.

Then it completely disappeared off the radar.

On Thursday there was hope that photos posted online by a merchant ship's captain showed debris from the passenger jet, and EgyptAir even confirmed wreckage had been found, but that later turned out to be incorrect.

Egypt's Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi told CBS News he has strong suspicions that terrorism is "most likely the case." But he cautioned that it was just his own personal view, "not a statement on behalf of the Egyptian government."

As Williams reports, it's been a disastrous year for Egyptian aviation.

In October a suspected bomb brought down a Russian MetroJet airliner here, killing all 224 people on board.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) later claimed responsibility. The terror group has an active branch in Egypt's volatile Sinai Peninsula.

Then in March a hijacker forced an EgyptAir passenger plane to land in Cyprus, though his suicide belt turned out to be a fake.

In Cairo yesterday, family members who'd been waiting for their loved ones to return, instead learned that they'll never come back.

"I want to know where my son is," beseeched one man "what's the government doing?"