Russian airliner crash: Latest findings reveal plane ‘disintegrated at high altitude’

By Kate Hassett

Image: Reuters
Image: Reuters
Russian airline crash: New reports say plane disintegrated in mid air.

Saturday saw yet another tragedy unfold, when the A321, operated by the Russian airline, Metrojet, fell from the sky above Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

The crash occurred less than 30 minutes into the flight and all 224 people on board were killed.

Departing from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St Petersburg, Russian, Egyptian and French investigators have been enlisted to solve the mystery of why the plane crashed so shortly after takeoff.

Alexander Neradko, an official from Russia’s Air Transport Agency, told local reporters that, due to the large surface area that made up the crash site, and the scattered fragments, all indicators point to the plane ‘disintegrating’ before it hit the ground.

“The crash site covers a very large area, over 20 square kilometres,” he said.

“Parts of the aircraft have been dispersed across an elongated strip of about eight kilometres by four. All the signs are that the aircraft disintegrated at a high altitude.”

Passengers on the Airbus A321-200 aircraft were reportedly returning from holidays abroad when the tragedy struck.

Egyptian and Russian investigators have begun examinations into the events by studying the black box recorder recovered from the airliner.

Whilst a militant group affiliated to Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the crash, experts have expressed doubt over these claims, stating that no militants in the area have missiles that are capable of hitting a plane at cruising altitude.

“In such cases, leave it to specialists to determine the cause of the plane crash because it is a subject of an extensive and complicated technical study,” Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in a statement.

Mourners have paid their respects at the Polkovo Airport in St. Petersburg where the ill-fated flight would have landed. A makeshift memorial has begun, adorned with candles, white carnations and stuffed toys to pay respect to the 25 children who were also on board.

Investigations will continue to determine the true cause of the accident. More information will be released over the coming weeks.

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