Russian airline: ‘External force’ brought down plane


(JTA) — The Russian airplane that crashed in the Sinai was brought down by an “external force,” according to the airline.

Alexander Smirnov, the deputy general director of Kogalymavia airline, also known as Metrojet, told reporters on Monday in Russia that there were no technical failures on the plane, which he said was in excellent condition.

“There is no combination of system failures that could have broken the plane apart in the air,” he said, according to RT.

The airline’s deputy director, Viktor Yung, said the crew appeared to have been disabled before the crash as well.

“As the catastrophic incident started to develop, the crew members were rendered completely incapable,” he said, according to RT. “This explains why they didn’t attempt to contact air traffic and report the incident happening on board.”

The officials appear to be alluding to a bomb or sabotage. All 224 people aboard the plane were killed in Saturday’s crash, including a former program director for Hillel Russia.

The Sinai affiliate of the Islamic State claimed responsibility for bringing down the flight on Saturday, saying it was in retaliation for Russian airstrikes on rebels in Syria’s civil war. Russia’s Transportation Ministry has rejected the claim, saying the group did not offer any evidence as to how it was able to cause the plane to crash.

Egyptian Prime Minister Sharif Ismail said experts do not believe that weapons held by the Islamic State could down a plane at the altitude of the flight when it came down, the BBC reported.

Russian officials had opened an investigation into the crash, looking for gross negligence and safety violations.

U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that though there is no direct evidence yet of terrorist involvement in the crash, it cannot be ruled out, according to reports.

Recommended from JTA