External factors have been blamed for a Russian plane to crash on the Sinai Peninula in Egypt which claimed 224 lives.
An official for the operating airline Metrojet made the statement to journalists during a press conference.
#BREAKING Russian Egypt crash airline blames crash on 'external' factor— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) November 2, 2015
“The only possible explanation for the break-up of an aircraft in mid-air would be an impact, either mechanical or physical,” said Metrojet Director, Alexander Smirnov.
Russian aviation authorities have described the words as “premature”. They say the cause of the crash can only be pinpointed after the wreckage and black box recorders have been examined.
Medvedev: Russian and foreign experts will need to carry out the necessary evaluations for detailed insight into the #7К9268 tragedy— Government of Russia (@GovernmentRF) November 2, 2015
Flight KGL9268 – what we know
- The Russian Airbus A321 was 22 minutes into a flight from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg in Russia
- There were 224 people on board. The majority were Russian tourists
- There were also citizens of Ukraine and Belarus on board
- The aircraft disappeared from the radar screens at 9,450 metres, just as it was reaching cruising altitude.
- No distress signal was sent
- A 2001 incident when the plane’s tail section struck the ground on landing was fully repaired. Experts say this could not have been a factor in the crash.
The official response
The crash will be thoroughly investigated. Everyone affected by the tragedy will receive assistance #7K9268— Government of Russia (@GovernmentRF) October 31, 2015
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says a full investigation into the causes of the crash is a key priority.
President Vladimir Putin has described the crash as a “great tragedy” and called on investigators to build what he has described as an “objective picture” of what happened.
The Transport Minister's report on the probe into the plane crash in Egypt and aid to the families of the victims https://t.co/vVhJxTyzEa— President of Russia (@KremlinRussia_E) November 2, 2015
The international response
The Egyptian government coordinated what was initially a rescue mission, but which quickly turned into one of recovery.
Officials were initally quoted in the press about the potential cause.
Some commentators are already drawing parallels with the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014.
Russian involvement in the crisis in Syria could also be compromised by the crash in Sinai, according to some experts.