Search for bodies continues in hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

Members of the Bahamian Defense Force remove bodies from the destroyed Abaco shantytown called Pigeon Peas, after Hurricane Dorian in Marsh Harbour, Bahamas September 8, 2019. REUTERS/Zach Fagenson

By Zachary Fagenson

MARSH HARBOUR, Bahamas (Reuters) – Rescue workers wearing white hazard suits continued their grim search for bodies and survivors in the hurricane-ravaged Bahamas on Monday, as relief agencies worked to deliver food and supplies over flooded roads and piles of debris.

At least 43 people died when Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas on Sept. 1, flattening homes and tossing cars and planes around like toys.

Dorian was one of the most powerful Caribbean storms on record, a Category 5 hurricane with winds of 200 miles per hour (320 kph). It rampaged over the Bahamas for nearly two days, becoming the worst disaster in the nation’s history.

Large swaths of Greater Abaco Island were destroyed. Reuters journalists saw search crews using geotagging technology to mark the locations of bodies in the hard-hit Mudd section of Marsh Harbor on that island.

Thousands of people poured into the capital, Nassau, where a week after the storm shelters were straining to house evacuees from worse-hit areas. Hundreds more have fled to the United States in search of safety and resources.

The National Emergency Management Agency said late Sunday that 2,500 people had been evacuated from the archipelago’s several islands, most of them from Abaco.

Shelters are housing about 1,100 people, the agency said; more are staying with friends and relatives. The agency late Sunday was asking residents whose homes were intact to open them up to people displaced by the storm.

Some 90% of the homes, buildings and infrastructure in Marsh Harbor were damaged, the World Food Programme said. Thousands of people were living in a government building, a medical center and an Anglican church that survived the storms, it said, but had little or no access to water, power and sanitary facilities.

Some 70,000 people were in need of food and shelter, the WFP estimated. Private forecasters estimated that some $3 billion in insured property was destroyed or damaged in the Caribbean.

The risk of outbreaks of diarrhea and waterborne diseases was high as drinking water may be tainted with sewage, according to the Pan American Health Organization.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein and Scott Malone, editing by Larry King)

One dead, dozens hurt as tornadoes flatten buildings in Ohio

A family leaves their apartment complex in the morning after a tornado touched down overnight in Trotwood near Dayton, Ohio, U.S. May 28, 2019. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk

(Reuters) – Tornadoes pulverized western Ohio early on Tuesday, killing one person, injuring scores of others and requiring emergency officials to send out snowplows to clear debris from a major highway, officials and media reports said.

At least one tornado hit Dayton and at least two touched down near the city, including one near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, just east of the city, media reports said.

A child's toy car sits among debris from a tornado that touched down overnight in Trotwood near Dayton, Ohio, U.S. May 28, 2019. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk

A child’s toy car sits among debris from a tornado that touched down overnight in Trotwood near Dayton, Ohio, U.S. May 28, 2019. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk

An 81-year-old man was killed in Celina, a small city 65 miles (105 km) north of Dayton, after a tornado sent a vehicle crashing into his home, Celina Mayor Jeffrey Hazel said at a news conference on Tuesday. Another seven people were injured in the storm, three of them seriously, he said.

At least 35 people in and around Dayton went to hospitals with injuries, most of them minor, according to Elizabeth Long, a spokeswoman for the Kettering Health Network.

“We’ve had injuries ranging from lacerations to bumps and bruises from folks being thrown around in their houses due to the storms,” she said.

The latest storm follows tornadoes and floods killed at least six people in Oklahoma during the previous week, including two people in El Reno on Saturday.

More than 60,000 homes and businesses in Ohio were left without power on Monday morning, according to the PowerOutage.US tracking service, and officials advised people to boil water after water plants and pumps went out of service.

Some media outlets reported that rescue workers were going door-to-door in parts of Dayton.

Twitter users posted images of debris flying in the air and damaged mobile homes and cars.

Media images online showed snowplows from the Ohio Department of Transportation clearing debris from U.S. Interstate 75 just north of the city.

The National Weather Service said multiple tornadoes were reported in the Dayton area between 11 p.m. Monday and 1 a.m. Tuesday.

A car is covered with debris that was ripped from an apartments building after a tornado touched down overnight in Trotwood near Dayton, Ohio, U.S. May 28, 2019. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk

A car is covered with debris that was ripped from an apartments building after a tornado touched down overnight in Trotwood near Dayton, Ohio, U.S. May 28, 2019. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk

“The storm system is weakening as it pushes into West Virginia and Virginia, but along with the winds, it has dropped about two or three inches 3 inches (5-8 cm)of rain in just two hours,” said Zack Taylor, a meteorologist with the NWS Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

Seven people were reported injured in the storm in Pendleton, Indiana, on Monday, about 100 miles (160 km) west of Dayton, according to media reports. More damage was reported in Celina, Ohio, about 78 miles (125 km) north of Dayton.

Flooded areas of Arkansas and Oklahoma were bracing for more rain that will feed the already swollen Arkansas River, forecasters said on Monday. Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri have all activated National Guard units to respond to the storms.

Early on Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump expressed his support for Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, a Republican. Trump promised support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Millions of Americans were under flood warnings on the Memorial Day holiday. Deluges hit Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois.

In Tulsa, officials were monitoring the Arkansas River after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers raised the flow at the upriver Keystone Dam by 65% since last week to 275,000 cubic feet per second. The heavier flow is testing two aging levees in Tulsa, the city said.

In Missouri, tornadoes and severe storms killed three people and destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes last week.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta, Jonathan Allen and Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Trott)

Ethiopian plane smoked and shuddered before deadly plunge

Ethiopian Federal policemen stand at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

By Duncan Miriri

GARA-BOKKA, Ethiopia (Reuters) – The Ethiopian Airways plane that crashed killing 157 people was making a strange rattling noise and trailed smoke and debris as it swerved above a field of panicked cows before hitting earth, according to witnesses.

Flight 302 took off from the Ethiopian capital on Sunday morning bound for Nairobi with passengers from more than 30 countries. All on board the Boeing 737 MAX 8 died.

The pilot had requested permission to return, saying he was having problems – but it was too late.

(graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/2CdCVUi)

Half a dozen witnesses interviewed by Reuters in the farmland where the plane came down reported smoke billowing out behind, while four of them also described a loud sound.

“It was a loud rattling sound. Like straining and shaking metal,” said Turn Buzuna, a 26-year-old housewife and farmer who lives about 300 meters (328 yards) from the crash site.

“Everyone says they have never heard that kind of sound from a plane and they are under a flight path,” she added.

Malka Galato, 47, a barley and wheat farmer whose field the plane crashed in, also described smoke and sparks from the back. “The plane was very close to the ground and it made a turn… Cows that were grazing in the fields ran in panic,” he said.

Tamirat Abera, 25, was walking past the field at the time. He said the plane turned sharply, trailing white smoke and items like clothes and papers, then crashed about 300 meters away.

“It tried to climb but it failed and went down nose first,” he said. “There was fire and white smoke which then turned black.”

CHILDREN’S BOOKS, PERFUME AT CRASH

As the plane had only just taken off, it was loaded with fuel.

At the site, Red Cross workers in masks sifted gently through victims’ belongings. Children’s books – Dr Seuss’s “Oh The Thinks You Can Think” and “Anne of Green Gables” – lay near a French-English dictionary burnt along one edge.

A woman’s brown handbag, the bottom burnt, lay open next to an empty bottle of perfume.

The aircraft was broken into small pieces, the largest among them a wheel and a dented engine. The debris was spread over land roughly the size of two soccer fields.

“When it was hovering, fire was following its tail, then it tried to lift its nose,” said another witness, Gadisa Benti. “When it passed over our house, the nose pointed down and the tail raised up. It went straight to the ground with its nose, it then exploded.”

Local resident Nigusu Tesema helped gather victims’ scattered identity papers to hand to police.

“We are shocked and saddened,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Kumerra Gemechu and Tiksa Negeri; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

Thousands gather in Israeli desert for meteor shower

Cars drive through Ramon Crater during the Perseid meteor shower near the town of Mitzpe Ramon, southern Israel, August 12, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

By Ori Lewis

MITZPE RAMON, Israel (Reuters) – Thousands of star-gazers gathered overnight at one of the darkest spots in Israel hoping to be dazzled by the annual Perseid meteor shower, only to be left somewhat disappointed by the show.

Locals had the rare task of directing traffic on a moonless Monday night in Mitzpe Ramon in the heart of the Negev Desert, a spot surrounded by terrain described as similar to a lunar or Martian landscape.

The Feinberg family from the Tel Aviv region drove for two-and-a-half hours for the display but the number of meteors, about one or fewer per minute, failed to truly light up the Ramon Crater’s dark night sky as in previous years.

A meteor streaks across the sky in the early morning during the Perseid meteor shower in Ramon Crater near the town of Mitzpe Ramon, southern Israel, August 13, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

A meteor streaks across the sky in the early morning during the Perseid meteor shower in Ramon Crater near the town of Mitzpe Ramon, southern Israel, August 13, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

“We are here waiting for the stars to fall, the children are very impatient,” said Eliran Feinberg, 42, who works for an air cargo company.

The Perseid meteors, which reach their peak every August, are produced by debris from the 109P/Swift-Tuttle comet that passes by the Earth every 133 years. It last passed in 1992.

Professor Rennan Barkana, head of the astrophysics department at Tel Aviv University, said this year’s shower was not as intense because the Earth had passed through a sparser part of the comet’s debris than previously and a smaller amount of particles had entered the atmosphere.

(Additional reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic in Sarajevo, Writing by Ori Lewis. Editing by Patrick Johnston)

Asbestos from New York steam pipe blast forces evacuations

New York Fire Department watch as an emergency responder examines the scene near a steam pipe explosion in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, U.S., July 19, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Peter Szekely and Tea Kvetenadze

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Residents and workers from 49 buildings near the site of an early-morning steam pipe explosion in Manhattan were evacuated, many for at least two days, on Thursday after lung-damaging asbestos was found on debris from the blast, officials said.

The findings raised concerns that asbestos, which had encased the 86-year-old ruptured pipe, may have spread to the street, buildings and ventilation systems, all of which would need to be decontaminated, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

“Now that we know there’s asbestos present, we’re not going to cut any corners,” de Blasio told reporters at the scene. “We’re going to be thorough.”

View of Midtown Manhattan's steam pipe explosion in New York City, U.S., July 19, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

View of Midtown Manhattan’s steam pipe explosion in New York City, U.S., July 19, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Street closings and the evacuations of 28 buildings in the “hot zone” near the explosion at Fifth Avenue and West 21 Street will probably last until the weekend while crews decontaminate the area, de Blasio said.

Some of the 49 buildings on the outer fringe of the explosion area may be reopened by Thursday evening, he said.

“People will not be let back into their apartments until we have cleared their building,” the mayor said.

Spokesmen for the Office of Emergency Management and the Fire Department said they had no estimate of how many residents were affected by the evacuation order.

The steam pipe, installed in 1932, blew up at the start of the morning rush hour near Manhattan’s sharply angled Flatiron Building, opening a giant crater in the street and creating an urban geyser that sent a vapor plume into the air for hours.

The only direct injuries from the blast were minor, officials said.

Dr. Herminia Palacio, deputy mayor of health and human services, said the main risks were from repeated exposure to asbestos fibers, rather than brief, temporary contact.

Officials urged anyone who may be contaminated to shower and remove their clothes, bag them and bring them to Consolidated Edison Inc, the power company that maintains the steam line.

The blast, the cause of which was under investigation, may have damaged other subterranean lines in the vicinity that carry water, gas and electricity, all which have been shut down until repairs are done, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.

The steam pipes are part of a 136-year-old system that Con Ed said is the nation’s largest steam network, stretching from the southern tip of Manhattan to 96th Street.

Although the blast and the resulting street closings snarled vehicular traffic in the immediate area, other commuting disruptions were minimal.

(Reporting by Peter Szekely and Tea Kvetenadze; Editing by Scott Malone, Bernadette Baum and Jonathan Oatis)

Houston still rebuilding from 2017 floods as new hurricane season arrives

A new home being constructed six feet above the ground to replace the one destroyed by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 is shown in the Meyerland neighborhood of Houston, Texas, May 16, 2018. Photo taken May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Ernest Scheyder

By Liz Hampton and Ernest Scheyder

HOUSTON (Reuters) – In an empty lot where Vincent Shields’ Houston home once stood, he points out properties whose owners were driven out after Hurricane Harvey inundated the region last summer.

“On this street there’s probably less than 30 percent occupancy,” said Shields, who tore down his house after the city ruled damage exceeded half its value and it would have to be elevated before being repaired. He and his wife moved into an apartment and began planning a new, higher home at the same location.

It has been roughly nine months since Hurricane Harvey dumped trillions of gallons of water on the U.S. Gulf Coast, killing 68 people and causing an estimated $125 billion in property damage.

Shields and some 25,000 Texas households are still displaced, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Nearly 80,000 homes across Texas had 18 inches of floodwater or more during Harvey.

In Houston, data on people still out of their homes and awaiting repairs are not available from the city. But U.S. Postal Service figures show 11,500 Houston homes became vacant between June 2017 and February 2018.

With the 2018 hurricane season beginning June 1, around 400 Houston households are still living in hotel rooms funded by FEMA, according to the agency’s latest data. Many others remain in temporary housing uncertain about their return home.

According to interviews with residents and neighborhood groups, many owners of flooded homes are still enmeshed in the emotionally fraught and expensive process of deciding whether to repair or elevate, or put their property up for sale.

Shields said the months since Harvey have been tough and fears that another major storm before the region fully recovers would be devastating.

“I can survive this once – health, wealth, physically – but I can’t do it again,” he said.

After three floods since 2014, local officials have added home-building restrictions and rules on rebuilding in flood-prone areas, giving owners of damaged homes costly new factors to consider.

Houston officials this year passed an ordinance requiring certain dwellings to be raised to the 500-year floodplain level plus two feet. Previously, only new homes had to start one foot above the 100-year level.

JACKED UP HOMES

The requirements have forced some owners to jack up existing homes to avoid the next flood.

Houston homes, typically built on slab foundations, can be mechanically raised for an average cost of $100,000 to $300,000 in a months-long project, said Wayne Fairley, a managing director at house elevating company Planet Three Elevation.

Fairley has tripled his workforce since Harvey to meet growing demand, he said. Subcontractors who once handled plumbing and electrical projects for the company now work for him full time.

“There were a lot of contracts signed post-Harvey,” said Fairley. About 5 to 10 percent of his clients are elevating their homes preemptively, and a large portion of his work is in Houston’s Meyerland neighborhood, which was hit by three major floods in recent years.

Nancy Wilson and her husband decided to tear down and build anew rather than spend the estimated $250,000 to raise and then remodel their 1950s home. The new house will be six feet higher than the old one, which got two feet of water during Harvey.

“I’m almost positive it will flood again,” said Wilson, a therapist, who hopes to move back by early next year. In the interim, the family is living a few miles away in a rental property.

“Honestly, I wish we were rebuilding higher,” said Wilson. “Six feet might not be high enough.”

STILL IN LIMBO

Gwen McGlory moved to west Houston’s Cinco Ranch neighborhood a decade ago for its good schools and gated subdivisions. Her house flooded after the city released water from a nearby reservoir to relieve stress on a dam, forcing her to find temporary housing.

Now, most mornings she drops her 14-year-old daughter off long before school has opened and picks her up hours after it has closed because the school system lacks funding to provide transportation from her current location.

“It’s concerning when I’m dropping her off at a dark school,” McGlory said, who is worried the transportation issues will continue into the next school year.

McGlory says she received $33,000 from FEMA after Harvey. Of that, $17,000 was earmarked for home repairs, despite bids from contractors pegging her damages closer to $70,000. The Red Cross worker recently was accepted to a rebuild and repair program run by a community group.

“I’m so overwhelmed. I am working and a single parent with two kids. I’ve never rebuilt a house before,” said McGlory, who had no flood insurance because her house was not in a floodplain.

While McGlory considered selling her property, an investor shortly after the storm offered $100,000 less than what she had paid for it.

Historically, home values in hard-hit areas can fall between 7 and 20 percent immediately after a flood, said Ed Wolff, president of real estate firm Beth Wolff Realtors and governmental affairs chair for the Houston Association of Realtors.

“You see a rebound after 18 to 24 months. As we get further away from the event the memories fade,” said Wolff, who decided to elevate his Meyerland home by almost six feet after Harvey and returned in early May.

The devastation of Harvey has pushed local officials and agencies to expand efforts to mitigate the impact of floods. Last year, county officials authorized $20 million to buy out homes that have routinely flooded.

The Harris County Flood Control District, which established its own buyout program in 1985, recently submitted a grant for state funding to buy homes damaged by Harvey. It has also focused on repairs to drainage infrastructure and removing debris from Harvey that could block waterways before the next hurricane.

Officials across the nation are becoming more aware of the dangers of urban flooding, which is aggravated by unbridled development, said Sam Brody, a professor in the Department of Marine Sciences and flooding expert at Texas A&M University in Galveston.

“Harvey exposed these underlying problems that cities such as Houston, Miami and Chicago face,” he said.

Texas is considering sweeping changes, including urging residents to buy flood insurance and raising the level of new homes, he said.

But the measures will take time to implement, Brody said. “There is a good likelihood we are going to get a major storm event before we are even partially recovered from this one.”

(Reporting by Liz Hampton and Ernest Scheyder in Houston and Jon Herskovitz in Austin; Editing by Gary McWilliams and Richard Chang)

China says space station burns up over South Pacific

FILE PHOTO: A model of the Tiangong-1 space lab module (L), the Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft (R) and three Chinese astronauts is displayed during a news conference at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, in Gansu province, China June 15, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s Tiangong-1 space station re-entered the earth’s atmosphere and burnt up over the South Pacific on Monday, the Chinese space authority said.

The “vast majority” of the craft burnt up on re-entry, at around 8:15 a.m. (0015 GMT), the authority said in a brief statement on its website, without saying exactly where any pieces might have landed.

Brad Tucker, an astrophysicist at Australian National University, said the remnants of Tiangong-1 appeared to have landed about 100 km (62 miles) northwest of Tahiti.

“Small bits definitely will have made it to the surface,” he told Reuters, adding that while about 90 percent would have burnt up in the atmosphere and just 10 percent made it to the ground, that fraction still amounted to 700 kg (1,543 lb) to 800 kg (1,764 lb).

“Most likely the debris is in the ocean, and even if people stumbled over it, it would just look like rubbish in the ocean and be spread over a huge area of thousands of square kilometers.”

China said on Friday it was unlikely any large pieces would reach the ground.

The United States Air Force 18th Space Control Squadron, which tracks and detects all artificial objects in Earth’s orbit, said it had also tracked the Tiangong-1 in its re-entry over the South Pacific.

It said in a statement it had confirmed re-entry in coordination with counterparts in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Britain.

The 10.4-metre-long (34.1-foot) Tiangong-1, or “Heavenly Palace 1”, was launched in 2011 to carry out docking and orbit experiments as part of China’s ambitious space program, which aims to place a permanent station in orbit by 2023.Decommissioning was originally planned for 2013 but the mission was repeatedly extended.

Asked about the space station, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular briefing he had no other information and reiterated that China had been reporting the situation to the U.N. space agency in an open and transparent way.

“According to what I understand, at present there has not been found any damage on the ground,” he said, without elaborating.

China had earlier said re-entry would happen in late 2017, but that process was delayed, leading some experts to suggest the space laboratory was out of control.

Worldwide media hype about the re-entry reflected overseas “envy” of China’s space industry, the Chinese tabloid Global Times said on Monday.

“It’s normal for spacecraft to re-enter the atmosphere, yet Tiangong-1 received so much attention, partly because some Western countries are trying to hype and sling mud at China’s fast-growing aerospace industry,” it said.

(Reporting by David Stanway and Wang Jing; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING and Alison Bevege in SYDNEY; Editing by Paul Tait and Clarence Fernandez)

Tropical Depression Cindy still packs a punch after landfall on Thursday

Radar from the continued threat of Tropical Storm Cindy

By Kami Klein

In the wake of the landing of Tropical Depression Cindy, there is extensive flooding in many states, the death of a 10 year old boy from debris in Fort Morgan, Alabama  as well as the damage and injuries from an F2 tornado that plowed through Birmingham, Alabama on Thursday,  From reports by the National Weather Service, this was just the beginning of problems that will be arising from this intense storm system.   

The F2 Tornado that hit a heavily populated area in Birmingham, Alabama Thursday afternoon left extensive structural  damage and injured four people. The Weather Channel also reported that Mayor Tim Kerner of the town of Lafitte, Louisiana (located south of New Orleans) said the rising water may impact homes and vehicles, and he issued a voluntary evacuation for all residents.

The AP has reported that more than a foot of rain has fallen in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Residents are concerned with the damages and hazards brought by the immense amount of water, including the dangers of alligators that are prevalent in many ponds and will now move into more populated areas.  

Mississippi residents are not the only people concerned about frightening impacts in nature caused by the flooding. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System warned of floating colonies of fire ants in the flood waters.  In a statement, the agency said the fire ants may resemble ribbons, streamers or large balls of ants floating on the water and that residents should be on the lookout when maneuvering in or being near flooded areas.

So far the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Tennessee and even southern Arkansas have been affected by the torrential rains contained in Tropical Depression Cindy.  Officials in all states have warned that there is a strong possibility for more flash flooding and tornadoes.  

In a report by The Weather Channel, remnants of the storm moved into Tennessee on Friday, knocking down trees and prompting power outages. According to Memphis Light Gas and Water, nearly 10,000 customers were without power Friday morning. Kentucky and West Virginia are bracing themselves for Heavy rainfall and flooding and reports from the weather service show that portions of Michigan and Indiana are also being affected by this storm system as well.  

The National Weather Service says that the path of Tropical Storm Cindy will spread heavy rain into the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys today – and into the Appalachians and Mid-Atlantic tonight. Flash flooding is possible in these areas as well as strong to severe thunderstorms.  

 

 

 

 

Egypt finds belongings, debris from plane crash at sea

Pilots of an Egyptian military plane take part in a search operation for the EgyptAir plane that disappeared in the Mediterranean Sea

By Ahmed Aboulenein

CAIRO (Reuters) – The Egyptian navy said on Friday it had found the personal belongings of passengers and other debris floating in the Mediterranean, confirmation that an EgyptAir jet had plunged into the sea with 66 people on board.

The military said it had found the debris about 290 km (180 miles) north of the port city of Alexandria and was searching for the plane’s black box flight recorders.

Egypt’s President Adbel Fattah al-Sisi offered condolences for those on board, amounting to Cairo’s official acknowledgement of their deaths.

The defense minister of Greece, which has also been scouring the Mediterranean, said Egyptian authorities had found a body part, luggage and a seat in the sea just south of where the signal from the plane was lost.

Although suspicion pointed to Islamist militants who blew up another airliner over Egypt just seven months ago, no group had claimed responsibility more than 24 hours after the disappearance of flight MS804, an Airbus A320 flying from Paris to Cairo.

Three French investigators and a technical expert from Airbus arrived in Cairo early on Friday to help investigate the fate of the missing plane, airport sources said.

Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said on Thursday that it was too early to rule out any explanation for the disaster. The country’s aviation minister said a terrorist attack was more likely than a technical failure.

Friday’s announcement that debris had been found followed earlier confusion about whether wreckage had been located. Greek searchers found some material on Thursday, but the airline later said this was not from its plane.

SUSPICION FALLS ON MILITANTS

While there was no official explanation of the cause of the crash, suspicion fell on the militants who have been fighting against Egypt’s government since Sisi toppled an elected Islamist leader in 2013. In October, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for blowing up a Russian jetliner that exploded after taking off from an Egyptian tourist resort. Russian investigators blamed a bomb smuggled on board.

Last year’s crash devastated Egypt’s tourist industry, one of the main sources of foreign exchange for a country of 80 million people, and another similar attack would crush hopes of it recovering.

While most governments were cautious about jumping to conclusions, U.S. Republican candidate for president, Donald Trump, tweeted swiftly after the plane’s disappearance: “Looks like yet another terrorist attack. Airplane departed from Paris. When will we get tough, smart and vigilant?”

Later in the day, his likely Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, also said it appeared to be an act of terrorism, although she said an investigation would have to determine the details.

Officials from a number of U.S. agencies told Reuters that a U.S. review of satellite imagery so far had not produced any signs of an explosion. They said the United States had not ruled out any possible causes for the crash, including mechanical failure, terrorism or a deliberate act by the pilot or crew.

Amid uncertainty about what brought down the plane, Los Angeles International Airport became the first major U.S. air transportation hub to say it was stepping up security measures.

“LIVES ARE SO CHEAP”

The plane vanished just as it was exiting air space controlled by Greece for air space controlled by Egypt. Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said the Airbus swerved radically and plunged from 37,000 feet to 15,000 before vanishing from Greek radar screens.

According to Greece’s civil aviation chief, calls from Greek air traffic controllers to MS804 went unanswered just before it left Greek airspace, and it disappeared from radar screens soon afterwards.

There was no official indication of a possible cause, whether technical failure, human error or sabotage.

Ultra-hardline Islamists have targeted airports, airliners and tourist sites in Europe, Egypt, Tunisia and other Middle Eastern countries over the past few years.

The aircraft was carrying 56 passengers, including one child and two infants, and 10 crew, EgyptAir said. They included 30 Egyptian and 15 French nationals, along with citizens of 10 other countries. A320s normally seat 150 people. The plane had made scheduled flights to Tunisia and Eritrea on Wednesday before arriving in Paris from Cairo.

At Cairo airport, a man sat on a brown leather couch crying with his hands covering his face on Thursday. “How long will Egypt live if human lives are so cheap?” he said.

The mother of a flight attendant rushed in tears out of the VIP hall where families waited. She said the last time her daughter called her was Wednesday night. “They haven’t told us anything,” she said.

(Writing by Lincoln Feast and Peter Graff; editing by David Stamp and Peter Millership)

Mozambique plane debris believed to be from Boeing 777: Malaysia minister

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Debris believed to be part of a Boeing <BA.N> 777 jet has been found off Mozambique and will be taken to Australia to be examined by investigators involved in the search for the missing Flight MH370, Malaysia’s transport minister said.

Liow Tiong Lai said there is a “high possibility” that the piece of debris belonged to a 777 jet but added he could not conclude yet that it was from the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner.

“The debris will be taken to Australia for further examination,” he told Reuters.

An official in Mozambique’s foreign ministry told Reuters the fragment was being flown to the capital Maputo from Inhambane province, 800 km (500 miles) to the north, and would arrive on Wednesday evening. It would be examined in Maputo by Malaysian and U.S. experts, the official said.

Earlier on Wednesday NBC News said the piece could be a horizontal stabilizer from a Boeing 777, citing U.S., Malaysian and Australian investigators who looked at photos of the debris.

The piece of debris was discovered off the east African coast between Mozambique and Madagascar.

Flight MH370 disappeared two years ago when it was en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. Last year authorities found a piece of the plane’s wing on the shore of Reunion island in the Indian Ocean on the other side of Madagascar.

“It is yet to be confirmed and verified….I urge everyone to avoid undue speculation as we are not able to conclude that the debris belongs to MH370 at this time,” Liow said on his Twitter account.

Flight MH370 disappeared on March 8, 2014, with 239 passengers and crew on board, and is believed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean. An initial search of a 60,000 sq km (23,000 sq miles) area of sea floor has been extended to another 60,000 sq km.

(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff and Manuel Mucari; Writing by Praveen Menon and Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by Dominic Evans)