With still no concrete explanation for what happened to EgyptAir flight MS804, a bizarre new theory has emerged.
The Airbus 320 was carrying 66 passengers and crew from Paris to Cairo when it crashed on 19 May.
Now claims are being made that it was hit by debris from a meteorite, causing it to plunge into the Mediterranean sea.
The somewhat dubious source of this suggestion is the website Whatdoesitmean, which cites “an intriguing Ministry of Defence report circulating the Kremlin. ”
The report claims a warning about the incoming meteorite was issued by Russia’s space surveillance complex in Tajikistan to Russia’s Aerospace Defence Forces (ADF) two days before the tragedy.
The asteroid, said to weigh an estimated 8,-10,000 tonnes, was approaching the atmosphere over North America at a speed of 67,000kmh, it claims.
Indeed, an asteroid was filmed streaking across the sky on 17 May by a police dashboard camera in Portland, Maine, though it is not clear if this is the same meteor referred to in the report.
After the meteorite struck the atmosphere, it broke into pieces “with some being ejected into a higher orbital ‘plane/ trajectory’” the report claims.
The unconfirmed MoD document is said to state the regions most likely to be affected by debris from the asteroid “lay between Greenland and Australia due to the original North-South orbit of this meteorite – with the centre point being the Levant.”
It adds: “Less than 48 hours after this ADF warning was issued, however, this report notes EgyptAir Flight 804 apparently flew into the range of this meteorite’s falling debris where it was struck by a fragment causing an explosive decompression of its structure that killed all 66 passengers and crew aboard.
“This report further notes that the first report of this plane's crashing was received from a Greek merchant vessel that reported that their crew had witnessed a flash in the sky sometime around the moment of EgyptAir’s Flight 804 disappearance—that is eerily similar to a Spanish pilots report that he saw an "intense flash" in the area where Air France 447 came down off the coast of Brazil on 1 June 2009 killing all 228 aboard, and which speculation that it too was brought down by a meteorite has been much discussed.”
The report makes no reference to how this supposed scenario was confirmed and the theory was quickly debunked by aviation analyst Phil Derner of NYCAviation.com.
Derner told the New York Post: “The word ‘astronomical’ would not even be enough to describe the mathematical odds of a meteor taking down the EgyptAir flight.
“The theory, like absolutely any theory at this point, holds no water because so little is known. Authorities have contradicted their own disseminated info so many times that it’s nearly impossible for anyone to seriously consider any theory at all, whether it be logical or completely ridiculous.
“I think the odds of a meteor hitting the aircraft are the same as a mid-air collision with Icarus.”
Indeed, there are no documented instances of a meteorite striking an aeroplane. And as Scientific American points out: “A meteorite impact need not be a catastrophic event. Presumably it would cause a deadly explosion only if it hit a critical part of aircraft.”
Furthermore, a contributor to the Aviation Stack Exchange blog for pilots, mechanics and enthusiasts, states: “A meteorite could hit an aeroplane, sure. There’s no known cases of it happening because meteorites which survive atmospheric entry are very rare and airplanes are pretty small to the likelihood of it happening is extremely low.”