A bomb downed the MetroJet plane that crashed in Egypt on Saturday, according to analysis of the flight date recorder. The plane crashed in the Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. Investigators revealed on Friday the sound of an explosion could be heard on the recorder, while suggestions of mechanical failure were ruled out.
On Friday, after receiving intelligence from US security services, Moscow suspended flights not only to Sharm el-Sheikh, but to and from every airport in Egypt.
Western intelligence services said on Thursday they believed an explosive device had been placed inside the plane’s cargo hold at the airport before takeoff. Moscow had previously accused London of being premature when the government suspended flights on Wednesday.
However, Russia’s U-turn suggests the intelligence gathered by western intelligence agencies, believed to include “chatter" from militants before the flight, is persuasive.
Speaking to France 2, an investigator with access to the data recorder said the sound of an explosion could be heard during the flight. Speaking to ABC, an Egyptian government official conceded a bomb was now “the most plausible scenario.”
AFP quotes sources within the investigation team as saying the readings from the flight recorders “strongly favours” the theory of a bomb as the plane suffered “a violent, sudden” demise. “Everything was normal during the flight, absolutely normal, and suddenly there was nothing”, an unnamed source told the agency.
At the resort airport, thousands of British tourists endured another day of delays after Prime Minister David Cameron suspended all flights earlier this week.
Rescue flights were sent to the resort on Friday in the hope of repatriating some of the 20,000 Britons stranded in the Asian city. However, only eight of a scheduled 29 flights took off to Sharm el-Sheikh from Britain on Friday.
Despite some UK planes being forced to turn around en route to Egypt as there was limited space to land, several did eventually make it through, delivering beleaguered tourists back to UK airports on Friday evening. Many had been told to travel only with hand luggage to ease security concerns. British passenger Maxine Hazelwood said as she arrived at Gatwick: "I'm so relieved it's over. It's just been an absolute nightmare."
Russia is due to start rescuing its own citizens in the coming days, with a reported 50,000 tourists awaiting return to Eastern Europe.
Following the crash, groups associated with the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the disaster, however failed to provide convincing details of how they carried out the operation.