Investigators ‘90% sure’ bomb brought down Russian jet in Sinai

St. Isaac’s Cathedral bell in Saint Petersburg rings 224 times in memory of each victim of plane wreck

Egyptian army soldiers stand guard next to debris and belongings of passengers of the A321 Russian airliner that crashed the previous day in Wadi al-Zolomat, a mountainous area in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, on November 1, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI)
Egyptian army soldiers stand guard next to debris and belongings of passengers of the A321 Russian airliner that crashed the previous day in Wadi al-Zolomat, a mountainous area in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, on November 1, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI)

Egyptian investigators probing what caused a Russian passenger plane to crash in the Sinai Peninsula last month are nearly certain it was a bomb, a member of the team said Sunday.

“The indications and analysis so far of the sound on the black box indicate it was a bomb,” an investigator who asked to not be identified told Reuters. “We are 90 percent sure it was a bomb.”

As for the slim chance of another explanation to the crash the investigator only commented, “I can’t discuss this now.”

US and British officials have cited intelligence reports indicating that the October 31 flight from the Sinai resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh to Saint Petersburg was brought down by a bomb on the plane, killing all 224 people on board.

Most of the passengers were from Saint Petersburg and the surrounding region.

After Washington and London said they believed the Russian passenger jet might have been taken down by a bomb, Moscow on Friday halted all flights to Egypt.

Islamic State extremists claimed they brought down the Metrojet flight, without offering proof, saying it was in retaliation for Moscow’s airstrikes that began a month earlier against fighters in Syria.

Saint Petersburg remembered the victims of the Sinai plane crash, with the bell of the iconic St. Isaac’s Cathedral tolling 224 times in memory of each person killed.

At an emotional memorial service at one of the former imperial capital’s most famous symbols, a chamber choir sang as several hundred mourners looked on.

Outside, the bell rang 224 times, the cathedral’s majestic golden dome prominent in the grey autumn sky.

The ceremony was broadcast live on national television, with pictures of the victims accompanied by the sound of the bell.

Staff at the St. Isaac’s Cathedral, which is a museum, said that the catastrophe had claimed the lives of one of their employees, Irina Sharova, and her 13-year-old daughter.

One of the mourners, Alla Mikhailova, said she could not stop thinking about the crash, Russia’s deadliest aviation tragedy.

“A week has passed but I still cannot come to my senses,” the 38-year-old told AFP. “I believe this, this wound will remain with us forever.”

Maria Semenchuk, 50, said she had come to pray for the victims.

“That’s the only thing we can do for them,” she told AFP outside the cathedral.

 

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