The dead bodies of 140 people killed Russian plane crash in Egypt’s Sinai desert have started to arrive back home in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Russian officials have confirmed the aircraft broke up in the air.
According to a news report published in The Guardian, aviation experts speculate that a sudden mechanical failure or a mid-air explosion could be the reason from the crash.
The crash killed all 224 people onboard after disaster struck at high altitude.
According to Russia’s emergency ministry, the remains of victims were to be taken in a motorcade to a crematorium in Saint Petersburg for identification, which will begin later on Monday.
The crisis centre set up close to the airport is now turning to be the site of an impromptu memorial in which family members providing DNA samples and people are bringing flowers. Many children are also coming to commemorate the victims.
Investigators had rushed to the scene of the wreckage after the crash on Sunday afternoon. Some debris were found several miles away from the twisted and blackened remains of the Airbus A321.
The head of Russia’s Victor Sorochenko interstate aviation committee, said it was too early to draw firm conclusions but it was clear that the plane had broken up in flight on its way from Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg.
According to experts, it could indicate a bomb caused the disaster, although an explosive decompression from a technical failure is equally possible.
The aircraft, built in 1997, suffered a tail strike in 2001, where the rear end of the plane touches the runway on takeoff. It underwent extensive repairs.
At least one major air disaster, a Japan Airlines crash, has been ascribed to weakness caused by similar repairs years earlier. Tony Cable, a former senior investigator at the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch, said “any weakness or fatigue would be bad news” in that part of the plane.
A militant group affiliated to Islamic State in Egypt had claimed responsibility for bringing down the Metrojet, or Kogalymavia, Airbus A321 “in response to Russian airstrikes that killed hundreds of Muslims on Syrian land” – a reference to the aerial bombing campaign recently begun by Vladimir Putin.
Egypt and Russia both denied such claims, suggesting militants in northern Sinai, where Egypt has been fighting an Islamic insurgency, did not have the weaponry to hit a flight at 9,000 metres (31,000ft).
The dead, including more than 20 children, were all Russian apart from four Ukrainians and one person from Belarus.
Russian officials said the revelation that the aircraft broke up in midair did not necessarily mean a bomb had caused the tragedy.
An official from Kogalymavia said it was discussing the timing of the safety checks and would take its Airbus A321 planes out of active use one by one without disrupting its flight schedule.
The plane was one of the oldest A321s in service, although its age is not regarded as excessive. It was previously operated by the Lebanese company Middle East Airlines, Turkey’s Onur Air, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Syrian company Cham Wings Airlines. It had flown 56,000 hours in nearly 21,000 flights.