The US has said that “at this time” it does not know “definitively” what caused disappearance of an EgyptAir plane en route to Cairo from Paris even as the Pentagon announced it had deployed a surveillance aircraft to help search for the wreckage.
“At this time we do not yet know definitively what caused the disappearance of (EgyptAir) Flight 804,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said yesterday, adding that US President Barack Obama has received multiple briefings on the issue.
“The US offers our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew of EgyptAir Flight 804, as well as to the countries affected by this tragedy, first and foremost Egypt and France,” he said.
The US stands ready to provide our full support and resources to the Governments of Egypt and France as they investigate this incident, he added.
Noting that the investigation is underway, Earnest said that the investigators will consider all of the potential factors that could have contributed to the crash.
Department of Defense Press Secretary Peter Cook said that the US Sixth Fleet, working with the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Greece and the US defense attaché in Athens has provided a US Navy P-3 Orion aircraft in support of search operations.
“That aircraft launched on its search mission earlier today and is still on-station helping with the search at this time. The department stands by to provide any other assistance that is requested. And at this point, the investigation is, of course, just beginning. If we have any information that could potentially be helpful, we will be, of course, happy to provide it in the future,” Cook said.
“At this point, the information that is available is something that investigators are still taking a close look at and so I wouldn’t hazard a guess at this point about what factors may have potentially contributed to this disaster,” Earnest said.
“But obviously we’re going to take a close look at all the available evidence and we’re going to be in close touch with our counterparts, and if there is assistance that US experts or US national security officials can provide in the investigation, then we’ll certainly do that,” he said.
Both the White House and the Pentagon said Egypt and France have been taking the lead in the investigation.
However, Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton termed the incident as an act of terrorism.
“Looks like yet another terrorist attack. Airplane departed from Paris. When will we get tough, smart and vigilant? Great hate and sickness!” Trump tweeted.
“It does appear that it was an act of terrorism. Exactly how, of course, the investigation will have to determine, but it once again shines a bright light on the threats that we face from organized terror groups. ISIS, of course, but then there are other networks of terrorists that have to be hunted down and defeated,” Clinton told CNN in an interview.