- CAIRO(Reuters) - Egyptian
authorities on Tuesday lifted a news blackout, permitting Egyptian media
to confirm foreign reports that senior military officers were on board
the Egyptair flight that plunged into the Atlantic on SUnday, killing all
217 people on board.
- "Egyptian sources said that a number of officers
of different ranks and from various branches of the armed forces were among
the victims of the plane that crashed off the U.S. eastern coast,"
the official daily al-Gomhuria said.
- It was the first time that local media had reported the
military presence on the plane, after aviation and security sources told
Reuters on Monday that more than 30 officers -- most of them high-ranking
-- were on the plane that crashed killing all 217 people on board.
- Local media had earlier been censored from reporting
that the officers were on board the flight, Egyptian reporters said.
- U.S. defence officials also confirmed the report, but
said most of the group, in the United States for training, had not been
- "Defence Secretary (William) Cohen spoke with Marshal
Tantawi (Egyptian Defence Minister Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi)
on the telephone this morning and expressed his deep condolences,"
one senior Pentagon official told Reuters.
- The official said some of the Egyptians were army pilots
who had been undergoing training in flying AH-64 "Apache" attack
- MANY EGYPTIAN OFFICERS TRAIN IN U.S.
- Egypt is one of Washington's biggest military and political
allies in the Middle East, and the two countries exchange dozens of officers
annually in training programmes as well as taking part in joint military
exercises. Egypt has billions of dollars in U.S. military equipment in
its defence arsenal.
- The Egyptian Defence Ministry and other government officials
would not comment on the report.
- One security source in Cairo said the group included
four Air Force officers, two brigadiers-general, a colonel and a major.
There were also at least two army majors-general, one brigadier, four colonels
and two lieutenant-colonels.
- "Three of the officers went on board the plane without
being checked in," one of the aviation sources said, without explaining
- The cause of the crash has not been established. U.S.
aviation authorities did not receive any distress call.
- The U.S. Coast Guard abandoned its search for survivors
on Monday and shifted efforts to recovering bodies and debris before bad
weather set in.
- CLINTON, MUBARAK PLAY DOWN POSSIBILITY OF SABOTAGE
- Coast Guard ships received a "ping signal"
indicating the location of one of the plane's two flight data recorders,
U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Richard Larrabee said, but pinpointing the
exact site would be difficult in the 250-foot (76 metre) deep water.
- U.S. President Bill Clinton said in Oslo that he was
not aware of any threats against airlines flying out of the United States.
He said until more of the plane was recovered, the cause of the crash could
not be determined.
- Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak also played down suggestions
- "Sabotage? I don't think that. Or a terrorist act?
I don't think that, but I cannot foretell. We are waiting until the investigation
comes to an end," he told CNN television.