A DAESH affiliate in Egypt claimed that it took down the Russian airliner that crashed on Saturday killing all on board in the Sinai Peninsula, but Russia's Minister of Transport Maxim Sokolov has denied the claims.
"The soldiers of the caliphate succeeded in bringing down a Russian plane in Sinai," said the terrorist organistanion’s statement on Aamaq website, which is known as a semi-official news agency for DAESH.
It also said that the plane was downed "in response to Russian air strikes that killed hundreds of Muslims on Syrian land."
But Maxim Sokolov told the Interfax news agency the claims "can't be considered accurate."
The terrorists in Sinai are not believed to have missiles capable of hitting a plane at 30,000 feet.
However, two of Europe's largest airlines, German carrier Lufthansa and Air France-KLM, announced they will not be flying over the Sinai pensinsula until it is found out what caused the crash.
Both black boxes of the Russian airliner have been found, Egypt’s civil aviation minister said at a news conference. Earlier authorities had announced that they had only found one.
All passengers and crew died on the Russian flight that was carrying 224 people, including 17 children when it crashed after taking off from Sharm el Sheikh, in Egypt.
"Unfortunately, all passengers of Kogalymavia flight 9268 Sharm el Sheikh - Saint Petersburg have died. We issue condolences to family and friends," the Russian Embassy announced on its Facebook page hours after the crash.
The plane was carrying 217 passengers, including 214 Russians and three Ukrainians as well as seven crew members.
As relatives and friends mourned behind their loved ones gathering at a St.Petersburg airport, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a day of national mourning for Sunday (November 1) in memory of the passengers that passed away in the accident.
Earlier it was reported the bodies of the victims will be sent to Cairo, but Russian authorities said all of them will be delivered to St.Petersburg for forensic examination and identification.
The Airbus A-321, belonging to western Siberian firm Kogalymavia, was on its way to St. Petersburg, Russia, before losing contact over the Sinai peninsula.
Flight KGL-9268 took off from the Red Sea resort at 0351 GMT and disappeared from the radar 23 minutes later, while flying at 31,000 feet.
It was reported that the plane made contact with Turkish air traffic control after disappearing, according to Egypt’s air accident chief Ayman al Muqaddam, speaking to Reuters.
However, it was later suggested that the plane may have crashed around Cyprus, before Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail confirmed that the plane went down in Sinai.
An Egyptian security officer at the crash site in Hassana, between the villages of Al Kuntillah and Al Kaseema, south of Arish, told Reuters that the plane was completely destroyed and some voices were heard from one section of the plane.
The officer said poor weather conditions had made it difficult for rescue crews to reach the mountainous area.
"I now see a tragic scene. A lot of dead on the ground and many who died whilst strapped to their seats."
He added that "the plane split into two, a small part on the tail end that burned and a larger part that crashed into a rock. We have extracted at least 100 bodies and the rest are still inside."
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) October 31, 2015
Criminal case launched
Russia's Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said that fuel samples of the airliner from the last refueling stop, in the Russian city of Samara, were being examined, RIA news agency reported.
The spokesman added the crew in charge of preparing the aircraft were being questioned.
Earlier Markin had said a criminal case against the Kogalymavia firm was launched under Article 263 regulating "violation of rules of flights and preparations for them" following the crash, as a group of investigators headed to Egypt.
"They will operate in agreement with the competent organs and together with the representatives of the Republic of Egypt in accordance with the norms of national and international law," Markin reportedly told Russian media.
France’s civil aviation safety agency (BEA) will also be sending two safety investigators along with six technical advisers from Airbus. BEA said in a statement, they will be joined by investigators from Germany's Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation and four from the Russian equivalent, the Interstate Aviation Committee (MAK).
A cabinet level crisis committee meeting was called to deal with the situation, as Prime Minister Ismail and cabinet members immediately went to the scene.
According to Al Jazeera, the plane had requested to land at Cairo airport due to a technical malfunction before it vanished.
There is also no evidence to suggest that the 18-year-old Kolavia/Metrojet plane had been shot down, Egypt's Civil Aviation Minister Mohamed Hossam Kemal was quoted saying in a cabinet statement.
Sweden-based flight tracking service, FlightRadar24, said that the plane was descending at about 6,000 feet per minute before vanishing from radar.
The accident marks the second time a member of A320 jetliner family has crashed, Flight Safety Foundation data shows. Airbus is yet to comment on the incident besides saying it currently has no independent information.