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Metrojet chief: Sinai plane crash was not caused by technical fault

The airbus crashed on Saturday.

Debris of a Russian airplane is seen at the site a day after the passenger jet bound for St. Petersburg, Russia
Debris of a Russian airplane is seen at the site a day after the passenger jet bound for St. Petersburg, Russia
Image: AP/Press Association Images

Updated 10.48

A SENIOR OFFICIAL at the Russian airline whose flight crashed in Sinai on Saturday, has insisted that a technical fault could not have caused the incident.

Alexander Smirnov, the deputy general director of Metrojet, said that no technical fault could have caused the Airbus A321-200 to break up in the air.

He told reporters that the cause of the crash “could only have been a mechanical impact on the plane”.

His comments come as an Irish team of aviation experts touched down in Egypt today to help with the investigation into the crash of a Russian airbus.

Kolavia Flight 7K9268 crashed on Saturday in the Sinai Peninsula. It was en route from Sharm el-Sheikh to Saint Petersburg.

All 224 people – including 17 children – on board were killed. There were 214 Russian and three Ukrainian passengers, and seven crew members.

The plane was registered in Ireland, flying with the registration number EI-ETJ.

Mideast Egypt Russian Plane Crash An Egyptian boy holds a poster to share sorrow outside Zeinhom morgue, where bodies of Russian plane crash victims are kept, in Cairo Source: AP/Press Association Images

The Department of Transport confirmed that following the acceptance of an offer of assistance to the Egyptian accident investigation authorities, the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) will send a team to Cairo today.

The team will assist in the investigation and will be made up of an operations/pilot inspector and an engineering inspector from the AAIU, and a regulatory/operations adviser from the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).

The plane had passed an AAI safety review earlier this year.

The team will fly out from Baldonnel using military transport provided by the Department of Defence and the Irish Air Corps.

Russia Egypt Russian Plane Crash Source: AP/Press Association Images

It was reported yesterday that the plane disintegrated in the air. Fragments of debris are strewn over a large area.

The plane’s ‘black box’ flight recorder has been recovered and is being analysed.

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A claim by Islamic State militants that it had ‘brought down’ the plane was dismissed by Russia’s transport minister.

Russia Egypt Russian Plane Crash A woman releases a white bird in memory of the victims during a day of national mourning for the plane crash victims at Dvortsovaya (Palace) Square in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Sunday Source: AP/Press Association Images

Emirates, Lufthansa and Air France have announced that they will stop flying over Sinai for safety reasons until the cause of the crash is determined.

A second plane carrying victims of the crash is set to leave Egypt for Russia this evening. Relatives are preparing to identify the remains of their loved ones in Saint Petersburg, AFP reports.

So far, 140 bodies have been repatriated.

Family members have been providing DNA samples at a crisis centre set up close to Saint Petersburg Pulkovo airport, now the site of an impromptu memorial where people have brought flowers and cuddly toys to commemorate the victims.

- With reporting from © AFP, 2015

First published 8.42

Read: Doomed Russian jet broke apart “in the air” before Egypt crash>

Read: Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for downing Russian passenger plane>

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