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What caused the Sinai plane crash?

Questions abound today, but very few answers.

Updated 10.47 pm

Source: RT на русском/YouTube

INVESTIGATORS ARE STILL attempting to find what exactly caused the Sinai plane crash that left 224 people dead on Saturday.

Investigators are examining all possible causes as they comb the remote crash site in the Sinai peninsula as part of an Egyptian-led probe into the disaster that also involves experts from Russia, Airbus, and Ireland, where the aircraft was registered.

Officials are currently investigating a number of lines of enquiry:

A technical fault

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

Investigators initially believed that the crash may have been caused by a technical fault which may have caused the plane to fall from the sky.

However a senior Metrojet official today claimed that the incident could “We rule out a technical fault of the plane or a pilot error,” said Alexander Smirnov, deputy general director of Metrojet.

“The only explainable cause is physical impact on the aircraft.”

It has been pointed out that the plane suffered a heavy tail strike while landing in Cairo in November. However, the plane has carried out thousands of journeys since then, so it has been questioned whether that could have happened.

Smirnov himself said that the plane was in “excellent technical condition”.

A bomb on board

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

An Islamic State group in Egypt has claimed responsibility, making either a bomb or a missile a popular theory.

However, The US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that while he could not rule out IS involvement, but thought it “unlikely”.

“We don’t have any direct evidence of any terrorist involvement yet,” he said.

Analysts have dismissed claims the jet could have been shot down by IS-affiliated groups in the region if it was flying at its cruising height of 30,000 feet, but did not rule out that a bomb might have been planted on board.

Mathieu Guidere, a terrorism expert at the University of Toulouse in France, said the claim “is credible.”

“The Twitter account and the other sites that have published the claim have never published anything false. The statement also carries the same style as other statements from the group,” he said.

Shot down by a missile

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

Some observers initially suggested that the plane could have been attempting a landing before being hit with a missile.

However, the head of Russia’s aviation authority Alexander Neradko slammed Metrojet’s claims that external factors were to blame as “premature and not based on any real facts” in televised comments.

Jean-Paul Troadec, former director of France’s civil aviation accident investigation office (BEA) told AFP that the missile theory is possible having seen photos.

Having seen these photos, the hypothesis of an attack and that of an accident both remain open.

“The examination of the debris and the analysis of the flight recorders will allow us to quickly establish which of those hypotheses is the most plausible.”

Human error

Russia Egypt Russian Plane Crash People are mourning for the plane crash victims at Dvortsovaya (Palace) Square in St. Petersburg, where the plane was headed. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Smirnov is convinced that it was not human or pilot error that brought the plane down. However, flight data shows a rapid descent consistent with a stalling of the plane.

A Reuters report says that early analysis of the black boesshow the pilot did not make a distress call before it disappeared from radar.

Robert T. Francis, a former vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board in the United States told the New York Times that he was “surprised” an airline would rule out human error so quickly.

Without the flight recorders having been read, and without more investigation of the fuselage, which is spread all over the place, I don’t think you can rule out anything.

With reporting from AFP and Conor Shiels

- First published 7.30 pm

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

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

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