Monday, November 2, 2015

Russian plane crash: Was a bomb placed on doomed aircraft before it took off?

Egyptian paramedics load the corpses of Russian victims of a Russian passenger plane crash in the Sinai Peninsula, into a military aircraft at Kabret military air base by the Suez Canal
Attacked? Egyptian paramedics load the corpses of victims on the crashed plane
A bomb is suspected of causing the Russian plane to crash after leaving the Egyptian tourist resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Russian aviation investigators confirmed the Airbus definitely broke up in mid-air before plummeting to the ground, killing 224 people – including 17 children.
Terror group ISIS posted a grainy video online and claimed responsibility for the attack.
British tourists heading to Sharm this week have been told they do not have to fly and have been offered vouchers to use on alternative routes.
Several airlines including Lufthansa, Air France, Emirates, Air Arabia and Flydubai all said they would not fly over the Sinai desert until results of the inquiry were known.

REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El GhanyA child's shoe is seen in front of debris from a Russian airliner
Heartbreaking: A child's shoe is seen in front of debris from a Russian airliner which crashed at the Hassana area in Arish city, north Egypt
But British Airways and easyJet said their routes already avoided the area where the Russian flight KGL9268 came down.
They both said passenger safety was paramount but they did not consider it necessary to change their flight paths.
An easyJet spokesman said: “Those passengers who don’t want to fly will be offered an alternative flight or a flight voucher.
"The safety of our customers and crew is our highest priority.
EasyJet can confirm that following the incident in Egyptian airspace involving a Russian airline it is currently assessing the situation and taking advice from all the relevant authorities.
Where the tragedy took place
“Based on the information received to date, easyJet plans to continue to operate to Egypt to carry holidaymakers as planned to and from Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada but will continue to actively review the situation.”
Getty ImagesEgyptian army soldiers stand guard next to the luggage and belongings of passengers
Devastated: Egyptian army soldiers stand guard next to the luggage and belongings of passengers of the A321 Russian airliner
British Airways said they would not discuss specific flight routes but added “however we would never fly a route unless it was safe to do so”.
Investigators from Russia are in the Egyptian capital Cairo and are starting to examine the black boxes which have been found at the crash scene.
Anadolu AgencyA plane part is seen as the Egyptian officials
Horrific: A plane part is seen as the Egyptian officials inspect the crash site of Russian Airliner in Suez
But they said their initial findings confirm there was an incident in mid-air.
Viktor Sorochenko, head of Russia’s Interstate Aviation Committee, said: “The disintegration happened in the air and the fragments are strewn over a large area, around 20 square kilometres.”
GettyRelatives react at Pulkovo international airport
Heartbroken: Relatives react at Pulkovo international airport outside Saint Petersburg
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said an investigation into the cause could take months.
He said: “This is a complicated matter and requires advanced technologies and broad investigations that could take months.”
ReutersThe remains of a Russian airliner which crashed is seen in central Sinai near El Arish city
Probe: The investigation into the plane crash is ongoing
Several experts said the evidence pointed towards a bomb being planted onboard.
Professor Michael Clarke, Director General of the Royal United Services Institute said early indications suggest the jet may have been destroyed by a bomb.
ReutersThe remains of a Russian airliner which crashed is seen in central Sinai near El Arish city
Debris: The remains of a Russian airliner which crashed is seen in central Sinai near El Arish city
He said: “This aircraft was 200km north of its take-off zone, that means it was flying at around 31,000 feet.
"Terrorists, as far as we know, don’t have equipment to take down an aircraft at that height.
“They have shoulder-launched missiles, known as man-portable missiles.
"They can get aircraft when they are taking off or landing, when they are going low and slow.
REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El GhanyMilitary investigators from Russia stand near the debris of a Russian airliner
Probe launched: Military investigators from Russia stand near the debris of a Russian airliner at the site of its crash at the Hassana area in Arish city
But anything above 8,000 or 9,000 feet is out of the range of the weapons that they’ve got.
“Early reports said it split into two and that suggests a catastrophic failure, not a mechanical failure, but perhaps an explosion on board, so I would be much more inclined to think, if we have to guess at this stage, it is much more likely to have been a bomb on board than a missile fired from the ground.
“And there’s no sign of a distress call, so the idea that the aircraft was undergoing an mechanical problem, or an engine problem, or a fire, or something like that, you would expect that there would be some sort of distress call beforehand.
REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El GhanyAn Egyptian army soldier stands guard near debris from a Russian airliner
Watching soldier: An Egyptian army soldier stands guard near debris from a Russian airliner which crashed at the Hassana area in Arish city
“So the fact that there was a catastrophic failure at 31,000 feet, with the aircraft falling in two pieces, suggests to me an explosion on board.
“So was this caused by some form of terrible accident, which is unlikely, or a bomb, which is much more likely, my mind is moving in that direction rather than anything that happened on the ground.”
A militant group affiliated to ISIS said in a statement it had brought down the plane “in response to Russian airstrikes that killed hundreds of Muslims on Syrian land.”
Russian and Egyptian officials have dismissed the claim.
Insurgents based in Sinai province have killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and police, and have recently also attacked Western targets.
Daily MirrorISIS releases chilling video of shot down Russian plane killing 224 on board
Terrifying: ISIS releases chilling video of shot down Russian plane killing 224 on board
French expert Yves Trotignon, a former intelligence agent, believes the statement was definitely issued by ISIS but said it was unlikely they had shot down the airliner.
Mr Trotignon said: “The statement does not say they shot it down, but that they destroyed it... You could imagine explosives on board, or sabotage.”
French political scientist, Mathieu Guidère, said ISIS “is very well established in the Sinai, has infiltrated almost all organisations and infrastructure, so it is quite possible that a fighter sabotaged the plane at the airport before it took off or placed a device on board.”
Daily MirrorISIS releases chilling video of shot down Russian plane killing 224 on board
Was it a bomb: ISIS releases chilling video of shot down Russian plane killing 224 on board
In a phone call to Vladimir Putin Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain “shared the pain and grief” of the Russian people after the crash.
Mr Cameron rang the Russian president to “express his condolences”.
His spokesman said: “The Prime Minister said how sorry he was about this terrible tragedy and that Britain shared the pain and grief of the Russian people.
“The Prime Minister added that Britain stood ready to help if there was anything we could do to establish the reasons behind the crash.
“The president welcomed this offer, noting that Russian experts were already in Sinai and working with the Egyptians and that analysis of the black box would be the next step."
AlamyThe Russian airline Kogalymavia Airbus A321
Blown up? The Russian airline Kogalymavia Airbus A321
The Airbus A321 came down on Saturday morning while it was heading from Sharm-el-Sheikh to the Russian city of St Petersburg.
At least 163 of the bodies have already been recovered from the jet which was operated by the Russian airline Kogalymavia under the brand name Metrojet.
They have been moved to hospitals and morgues in the capital Cairo.
Pathologists said they had been “charred beyond recognition.”
Some of the bodies are due to be flown back to Russia on Monday.

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