Investigators rule out as ‘improbable’ theory that exploding phone caused EgyptAir crash

An Egypt Air plane on the tarmac of Cairo international Airport. (AFP file photo)
Updated 20 May 2019

Investigators rule out as ‘improbable’ theory that exploding phone caused EgyptAir crash

  • The plane, flying from Paris to Cairo, crashed over the Mediterranean between Crete and the northern coast of Egypt on May 19, 2016
  • All passengers and crew on board, including 40 Egyptians and 15 French citizens, lost their lives in the crash of the A320

PARIS: It is improbable that an exploding smartphone or tablet caused the crash of an Airbus jet operated by EgyptAir three years ago, according to an expert report commissioned by French authorities and seen by AFP on Sunday.
The plane, flying from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport to Cairo, crashed over the Mediterranean between Crete and the northern coast of Egypt on May 19, 2016 killing all 66 people on board.
But the aftermath of the crash has been marked by tension, with the Egyptian authorities pointing to a terror attack as the likely cause but their French counterparts insisting on technical issues.
Paris investigating magistrates ordered separate expert reports on two subjects, the first looking at the maintenance of the plane and the second specifically at the phone issue.
There had been speculation that a thermal runaway — a drastic change in temperature — in batteries in an iPhone or iPad in the cockpit could have been the cause of a fire that brought down the plane.
But in the expert report, first reported by the Le Parisien daily and now seen by AFP, three experts said that this was improbable.
“If a spontaneous thermal runaway in a device with a lithium-ion battery can never be completely excluded, the analysis shows that for these devices such an event must be considered extremely improbable,” said the report.
It said that this conclusion was only valid if there had been no “external mechanical aggression” on the devices.
The report said there should have been no security impact even if the devices had been charging in the cockpit.
The report on the security of the plane, which was made known in April, said the aircraft should never have taken off because of a series of technical issues on previous flights.
All passengers and crew on board, including 40 Egyptians and 15 French citizens, lost their lives in the crash of the A320.
In December 2016, Egyptian officials said traces of explosives had been found on the remains of some victims, but French authorities were skeptical, as no organization had claimed responsibility for any attack.


Israel records highest single-day virus tally

Updated 10 July 2020

Israel records highest single-day virus tally

  • Benjamin Netanyahu has admitted that the decision to allow businesses, including bars and event spaces, to re-open may have been made “too soon”
  • Certain towns and city neighborhoods across the country considered virus hotspots have been placed under more robust lockdowns

JERUSALEM: Israel has recorded its highest number of coronavirus infections over a 24-hour period, with nearly 1,500 new cases confirmed in the most recent daily count, the health ministry said Friday.
Israel had won early praise for its virus containment efforts, but cases have surged since a broad re-opening began in May.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted in a late Thursday news conference that the decision to allow businesses, including bars and event spaces, to re-open may have been made “too soon.”
“I take responsibility for it,” he told reporters.
From midnight (2100 GMT) on Wednesday to midnight on Thursday, the health ministry registered 1,504 new coronavirus infections — the highest single-day tally since Israel confirmed its first case on February 21.
The country of roughly nine million has now registered more than 36,000 cases, including 351 deaths.
Various restrictions have been re-imposed, including the closure of venues, clubs, bars, gyms and public pools.
Limits on the number of people allowed in restaurants and places of worship have also been reinstated.
Certain towns and city neighborhoods across the country considered virus hotspots have been placed under more robust lockdowns.
Israel’s director of public health services, Siegal Sadetzki, resigned this week, blasting her superiors for ignoring her advice and steering Israel’s virus response off course.
“Despite repeated warnings in different forums, we are watching with frustration as our window of opportunity (to contain the virus) is running out,” Sadetzki said in a Facebook post announcing her resignation.