‘External factor’ downed Russian plane in Egypt's Sinai

Russian airline official rules out possibility of technical error being reason behind tragedy, and said it must have been ‘external factor’

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Kogalymavia airline CEO Alexander Snagovsky leaves as deputy general directors of the airline Alexander Smirnov and Andrei Averyanov and Oxana Golovina, company owner representative, sit during a news conference in Moscow, Russia November 2, 2015.

"An external influence" is the only reasonable explanation why the Russian passenger jet crashed in the Egyptian Sinai peninsula on Saturday, an executive from the airline said on Monday, reiterating that planes don't just break apart in midair and the accident wasn’t an end result of a human error.

"We exclude technical problems and reject human error," Alexander Smirnov, an official at the airline, told a news conference in Moscow, as he discussed possible causes of the crash. "The plane was in excellent condition," he added.

Russian investigators in Cairo argued that the plane may have broken up in mid-air, yet stressed the fact that its still too early to draw conclusions from this.

The crashed Airbus A321-200, was 18 years old and previously had an accident involving its tail section, but the airline officials said that full-scale repairs had been done successfully.

And given that, was no reason to think that the tail accident had anything to do with the Saturday crash, official said. There was also no emergency call from the pilots to services on the ground during the flight.

DAESH's affiliate in Egypt, Wilayet Sinai (Sinai Province), claimed that it took down the Russian airliner on Saturday, killing all on board.

However, Egypt's Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said the likely cause of the crash of a Russian passenger jet that killed 224 people on Saturday was due to technical problems. Thus, dismissing claims of DAESH responsibility, Ismail told a press conference on Saturday night.

Russia's Minister of Transport Maxim Sokolov has also denied the claims.

The militant group released a video showing an airplane being hit with a missile, and then descending in flames. Claiming that the video shows the Russian plane going down, they said the attack was in retaliation for Russia's intervention in Syria.

"The soldiers of the caliphate succeeded in bringing down a Russian plane in Sinai," the terrorist organisation said in a statement quoted on the Aamaq News Agency's website, the statement added that the attack was "in response to Russian air strikes that killed hundreds of Muslims on Syrian land."

Sokolov told the Russian Interfax News Agency that DAESH’s claims can't be considered accurate because the terrorists probably don’t have missiles capable of downing a plane at 30,000 feet.

"Based on our contacts with the Egyptian side, the information that the airplane was shot down must not be considered reliable," Sokolov said.

Putin expresses condolences, calls for ‘objectivity’

Russian president Vladimir Putin addressed the matter on Monday and spoke to the Russian Interfax News Agency, expressing condolences to the families of slain vacationers and calling on investigators urging them to provide an ‘objective picture’ of what really happened.

"I would like to once again express my condolences to the families and relatives of the victims," said Putin.

"Without any doubt everything should be done so that an objective picture of what happened is created, so that we know what happened," Putin said in comments cited by ITAR-TASS.

"This work should be continued until we are fully sure that this stage is complete."

Putin have previously have announced Sunday to be a national mourning day, for the worst airline disaster in the Russian history. However, residents of Saint Petersburg later decided to extend the mourning period for two more days.

144 dead bodies were delivered home, to Saint Petersburg all the way from Cairo on Monday. The rest of the bodies are expected to be delivered home too in the earliest convenience, with some found as far as 10 kms away from the debris, search parameters are widened to cover more ground, as far as 50 kms.

In reference to DAESH’s claim, Russia started launching air strikes in Syria in Sept. 30 with the initial claim that it would be battling DAESH, signaling a new chapter in the Syrian conflict.

However, in time Russia's intentions in Syria appeared only to be protecting the Bashar al Assad regime and its withering authority.

Egypt has so far supported the Russian military intervention in Syria, calling it "effective" in battling terrorism.

TRTWorld and agencies