Egypt plane crash: What we know so far about the tragedy

Credit: Reuters

As flights from Sharm el-Sheikh to the UK are delayed over bomb fears, we review what is known about the Egyptian plane crash tragedy.

  • What happened?

Egyptian officials confirmed the black box flight data and cockpit voice recorders were recovered from the crash site. Credit: Reuters

A Russian passenger plane carrying 224 people crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday after breaking up in mid-air.

The Airbus A321, operated by Russian airline Metrojet as flight KGL9268, was carrying holidaymakers from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg.

The plane was carrying as many as 200 adults and at least 17 children - mostly Russian - along with the crew of seven. There were no survivors.

  • When exactly did the plane crash?

Data from Flight Radar shows the moment the aircraft vanished from radar. Credit: FlightRadar/Twitter

After taking off at 5:58 Cairo time (03:58 GMT) the plane disappeared from radar screens at 06:20 (04:20 GMT) an altitude of 31,000ft (9,450m).

A top official at Metrojet has now said the plane lost 186 mph of speed and 5,000ft (1,524m) of altitude in a minute before the crash occurred.

The wreckage was found by Egyptian military aircraft in the mountainous Hasana area, 22 miles (35km) south of the Mediterranean coastal town of el-Arish.

The flight had been originally due to land at St Petersburg's Pulkovo airport at 09:10 GMT.

  • What caused the crash?

Downing Street has said it believes the Russian plane which crashed in Egypt on Saturday "may well have been brought down by an explosive device".

Initial claims by a terrorist group linked to the so-called Islamic State that the flight was shot down were discredited by Russian and Egyptian officials.

On Tuesday, investigators began examining the plane's black box recordings in a bid to discover the cause of the crash. However, Egypt's Civil Aviation Ministry said the recording was "partially damaged".

  • Do officials know the crash was not due to a technical fault?

Russia observed a day of mourning on Sunday to remember the victims of the crash. Credit: RTV

Deputy general director of Metrojet, Alexander Smirnov, has ruled out a technical error as the cause and said an "impact on the plane" led to the tragedy.

"No technical fault could have caused the Airbus A320-200 to break up in the air," he said, adding that the cause had to be due to "an external impact on the plane."

Investigators in Egypt have said the plane was "not struck from the outside" as the bid to determine what exactly happened continued.

  • Could the crash have been terror-related?

When asked about the possibility that the crash could have been an act of terrorism, a Kremlin spokesman stated "no versions can be ruled out".

A Number 10 spokesman it is not yet possible to "categorically say" why Russian operated Metrojet flight KGL9268 crashed, but information has "come to light" leading to concerns the plane "may well have been brought down by an explosive device".

  • What has happened to the dead?

A Russian emergency ministry cargo plane carrying the bodies of victims. Credit: Reuters

The first of the deceased have been flown to St Petersburg by a Russian government plane.

Russian news agencies reported that 144 bodies were carried aboard the first Il-76 Emergency Situations Ministry plane, which arrived at the city's Pulkovo Airport a little before 6am local time.

Russia held a day of mourning for the victims on Sunday.