[Thanks to Penny For Your Thoughts for the following, most interesting slant on the Russian passenger plane downing.]
Moscow/Cairo (dpa) – Unusual sounds were recorded in the cockpit as a Russian passenger jet crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula at the weekend, sources told Russia’s Interfax news agency Tuesday.
The news came after revelations by US broadcasters that satellite images had detected a heat flash at the time of the crash.
All 224 people on board the 18-year-old Airbus were killed in Saturday’s crash, making it the worst in Russian aviation history. The black box flight recorders are currently being analysed in Cairo.
Kogalymavia, a small airline that operated the flight under the name Metrojet, said Monday that the disaster was most likely caused by a mid-air “impact” and that the plane had no technical problems.
Its announcement followed Egyptian and Russian authorities categorically ruling out claims from an affiliate of the Islamic State extremist militia that members of the Sinai-based group had downed the plane with a rocket.
Speculation of a possible bomb on board has continued, however, with Russian officials saying the plane broke up in mid-air.
“Before the moment of the disappearance of the aircraft from radar screens, sounds are recorded which are not characteristic of a normal flight,” Interfax quoted an unnamed security source in Cairo as saying.
The source said that, shortly beforehand, there were normal conversations between pilots and air-traffic controllers with no evidence of irregularities as Russian tourists flew home from the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg.
US satellites recorded a heat flash over Sinai at the time of the crash, several US television networks reported, but there was no evidence of a rocket launch.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi said any rocket claims by Islamic State were nonsense.
“When there is propaganda that it crashed because of ISIS [Islamic State], this is one way to damage the stability and security of Egypt and the image of Egypt,” he told the BBC.
“Believe me, the situation in Sinai – especially in this limited area – is under our full control,” he said.
Russia continued to bring bodies of the victims home Tuesday.
“We will do this work every day until all the dead and their belongings have been brought back,” the deputy head of Russia’s Civil Protection Agency, Vladimir Stepanov, told the Itar-Tass news agency.