Metrojet official says cause ‘could only have been an external impact’ on the plane, which broke up in mid-air above Egypt’s Sinai peninsula
The Russian airline whose jet crashed in Egypt on Saturday, killing all 224 people on board, has said the crash could not have been caused by technical faults or human error.
Alexander Smirnov, the deputy general director of Metrojet, said the cause of the crash “could only have been an external impact on the plane” in the air, causing it to break up in mid-air and plummet to the ground.
When pressed for an explanation about what could have caused this impact, Smirnov insisted that he was not at liberty to discuss details because the investigation was ongoing.
“The plane was in excellent condition,” Smirnov told a news conference in Moscow. “We rule out a technical fault and any mistake by the crew,” he said.
A source in the Egyptian committee analysing the plane’s black box recorders told Reuters that the plane was not struck from the outside. The source declined to give more details but based his comments on the preliminary examination of the boxes.
According to Smirnov, the plane dropped 186mph in speed and about 5,000ft in altitude one minute before it crashed into Egypt’s Sinai peninsula. He also said the crew did not send a distress call and they did not contact traffic controllers before the crash.
Aviation experts have speculated that a sudden mechanical failure or an explosion could have been to blame after the aircraft broke up over the Sinai desert.
A Kremlin spokesman said there were not yet grounds to rule out any theory for the crash. Dmitry Peskov was replying to a question at a press conference about whether a terrorist attack could be to blame.
The plane was carrying Russian holidaymakers home from the beach resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Early on Monday, the bodies of 140 victims of the crash arrived back in St Petersburg. Their remains were to be taken in a motorcade to a crematorium for identification, which will begin later in the day, according to Russia’s emergency ministry.