(AP) Jerusalem – Pieces of wreckage believed to be from the EgyptAir plane that crashed in May were found on Thursday along the coast of Israel, according to the office of Israel’s prime minister.
The fragments were found in the morning hours north of Tel Aviv, along the shores of the coastal city of Netanya, said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.
It said that “parts were collected and it appears there is a high likelihood they are pieces of the Egyptian plane.” It said the debris will be sent to Egypt.
EgyptAir Flight 804, an Airbus A320 en route from Paris to Cairo, plunged into the Mediterranean Sea on May 19. The crash killed all 66 people on board and the cause of the crash has not yet been determined. The pilots made no distress call and no militant group claimed to have brought the aircraft down.
The plane disappeared from radar between the Greek island of Crete and Egypt. The current in that area flows toward Israel, according to the Levantine Group risk consultancy.
If the debris found Thursday proves to be that from the doomed Egyptian plane, it would mean that the currents had carried the fragments a distance of about 540 kilometers (340 miles) from the suspected crash site, all the way to Netanya.
Egyptian investigators say pilots tried to extinguish a fire in the plane, according to data recovered from a cockpit voice recorder.
Radar data showed the aircraft had been cruising normally in clear skies before it turned 90 degrees left, then a full 360 degrees to the right as it plummeted from 38,000 feet (11,582 meters) to 15,000 feet (4,572 meters). It disappeared when it was at an altitude of about 10,000 feet (3,048 meters).
Deep ocean search teams have been recovering human remains and bringing them to Egypt’s port city of Alexandria. French authorities opened a manslaughter inquiry late last month, but said there is no evidence so far to link the crash to terrorism.
The Egyptian investigators have said they are not ruling any theory out, including terrorism. Catastrophic fires rarely break out so suddenly on flights.
An Egyptian official at the civil aviation ministry said Thursday that Egypt has not been officially notified about the wreckage found in Israel so far. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Netanyahu’s office said France and Egypt have been updated on the finding.