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France sends underwater probes to EgyptAir search zone

France sends underwater probes to EgyptAir search zone

CAIRO/PARIS: A French naval vessel was en route to the eastern Mediterranean on Thursday to join the hunt for black boxes from a crashed EgyptAir jet, equipped with three specialist probes from a French company recruited to accelerate the search.

France’s BEA air crash investigation agency said French naval survey vessel Laplace had left Corsica earlier on Thursday and was heading toward the search zone north of the Egyptian port of Alexandria, where it would begin operations within days.

A week after the Airbus A320 crashed with 66 people on board, including 30 Egyptians and 15 from France, investigators have no clear picture of its final moments.

Search teams are working against the clock to recover the two black box flight recorders that will offer vital clues on the fate of flight 804, because the signals that help locate them in deep water cease transmitting after about 30 days.

The BEA, which is working as part of an Egyptian-led investigation into the crash, said two of its investigators were on board the French naval ship which was carrying equipment from ALSEAMAR, a firm specializing in searching for marine wrecks.

It will join French frigate Jacoubet and other Egyptian and foreign vessels already taking part in the search.

Negotiations are also underway to contract a second firm to search more than one area, French and Egyptian officials said.

ALSEAMAR’s equipment includes three of its DETECTOR-6000 systems, designed to pick up black-box pinger signals over long distances up to 5 km (3 miles), according to the company’s website.

It works by dipping a slender probe into the water to listen for pings and then retrieving it to download the findings.

ALSEAMAR, a subsidiary of French industrial group Alcen, did not respond to a request for comment.

In 2004, the same company deployed a system of “intelligent buoys” to search for black boxes after a Boeing 737 belonging to Egypt’s Flash Air crashed in the Red Sea near Sharm al-Sheikh.

The second firm likely to be involved is Mauritius-based Deep Ocean Search, with which France and Egypt are finalising a contract, according to French diplomatic sources.

That firm was originally involved in the search for missing Malaysian jet MH370, but it and others voiced complaints about the conduct of the search after being rejected when responsibility shifted from Malaysia to Australia.

It was not immediately available for comment.

Courtesy : TheNews



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