The Russian airline whose plane went down in Sinai on Saturday has said an external force probably caused the crash. The announcement comes after the "Islamic State" claimed responsibility.
Alexander Smirnov, the deputy general director of Metrojet, said at a press conference on Monday that the crash could only have been caused by "a mechanical impact on the plane," fueling speculation that an act of terrorism might have been behind the deaths of the 224 people on board the fatal flight.
Smirnov dismissed the possibility of the crash being the result of a technical failure, saying there was no way a malfunction could lead to the plane falling apart mid-air. He also said the pilots did not issue an emergency call at any point during the flight.
However, he left it open as to what the external force that caused the crash might have been.
Terrorists claim responsibility
Not long after the Airbus A321 went down in the Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, a group affiliated with "Islamic State" ("IS") claimed responsibility for the crash.
However, Russian and Egyptian authorities said militant groups in the area didn't have access to weapons that could reach a plane 9,000 meters (30,000 feet) in the air. Nonetheless, a Kremlin spokesman on Monday said the government had not ruled out the possibility, Reuters news agency reported.
The first remains of the crash victims arrived in St Petersburg on Monday, as investigators from Russia, Egypt and other countries continue to search for bodies. Almost all of the victims were Russian.
Metrojet, which also goes by the name Kogalymavia, is a small Russian airline that has faced close scrutiny since the day of the crash. Russia is known for its poor air safety conditions, leading some to speculate that the aircraft being operated by Metrojet might have been the cause of the tragedy.
blc/kms (AP, dpa, Reuters, AFP)