Egypt’s Prime Minister has dismissed claims by the Islamic State (ISIS), that it is responsible for the crash of a Russian passenger plane in Sinai, saying a technical fault was most likely the cause.
An investigation has commenced into the cause of the crash in which all 224 people on board were killed.
Despite the Egyptian authority’s assurances, three airlines; Emirates, Air France and Lufthansa have decided not to fly over the Sinai Peninsula until more information is available.
Meanwhile, Russia is observing a day of mourning, following its worst aviation disaster.
Officials, however, said that the plane’s black boxes had been found and sent for analysis.
Egypt’s Civil Aviation Minister, Hossam Kamal, said that there had been no sign of any problems on board the flight, contradicting earlier reports that the pilot had asked to make an emergency landing.
An Egyptian official had previously said that before the plane lost contact with air traffic controllers, the pilot had said the aircraft was experiencing technical problems and he intended to try to land at the nearest airport.
Egypt’s Civilian Aviation Ministry said the plane had been at an altitude of 9,450m (31,000ft) when it disappeared.
Security experts, nonetheless, said that a plane flying at that altitude would be beyond the range of a shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile (Manpad), which Sinai militants are known to possess.
However, German carrier, Lufthansa, said that it would avoid flying over the Sinai Peninsula “as long as the cause for Saturday’s crash has not been clarified”.
On Saturday evening, Air France-KLM and Emirates said they were following suit.
British Airways and EasyJet said their routes were regularly reviewed, but that they had no plans to alter their routes to and from Sharm el-Sheikh.
The plane was carrying 217 passengers, including 25 children, Russian transport authorities said. There were seven crew members on board.
Egyptian officials had said 213 of the passengers were Russian and four were Ukrainian, but Russian officials said at least one of the victims was from Belarus.
The bodies of 163 victims have so far been recovered and taken to Cairo.
The Kogalymavia airbus-321 crashed early on Saturday shortly after leaving the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh for the Russian city of St. Petersburg.