Sinai plane crash: al-Sisi says Islamic State claims are "propaganda"
Cairo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi believes Islamic State claims to have shot down the Russian plane that crashed on 31 October in Sinai, are "propaganda" . He added that it is too early to speculate on the real causes that led to the crash of the 321 Metrojet Airbus, which killed all 224 people on board.
Meanwhile, an American satellite, equipped with infrared cameras, and in orbit over the peninsula at the time of the accident, detected a "heat lightning"; However, it is currently not possible to tell whether it happened while the aircraft was still in the air, or was a result of its impact with the ground.
The Airbus A-321, operated by the Russian airline Kogalymavia, had left at 5:58 (local time) on October 31 from Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea and was headed to the Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg. After only 23 minutes of flight, the plane disappeared from radar. On board were 217 passengers (mostly Russian), including 25 children, and seven crew members.
The plane was traveling at an altitude of 31 thousand feet (9,300 meters) when it began a rapid descent of 6 thousand feet per minute (1,800 meters) before the radar lost its signal. The cause of the accident is still unknown, although analysts and experts remember that the Sinai Peninsula is a military zone, where jihadist groups linked to the Islamic State are fighting against the Egyptian government.
Yesterday Kogalymavia executive have blamed "external" factors for the incident, saying that the vehicle was serviced and judged flight worthy. Russian Federal Aviation has appealed for caution and reserve, pending publication of reliable data on investigations. Aleksandr Neradko said that any claims to date are premature and "not based on any proven fact."
Meanwhile, Egyptian President al-Sisi confirms that the area of the crash is under "full control" of the army and has asked for people not to jump to conclusions but to help “in the ongoing investigation" and to clarify the dynamics of the crash as soon as possible. The jihadists claims, said the head of state, are an attempt to "harm the stability and security of Egypt and its image."
James Clapper, director of US intelligence, noted that so far there is no "direct evidence of any terrorist matrix" in the crash, and adds that despite being "highly unlikely, however, is not to be excluded."
In the hours after the jihadist militants in the province of Sinai issued a statement and an audio message, claiming that they hit the aircraft. Experts doubt that the fundamentalists have weapons capable of hitting a plane flying up to 10 thousand meters high.
However, the hypothesis of an attack may be supported by some satellite images, spread by CBS, which show a "flash of heat" in the skies over Sinai in conjunction with the incident. It remains to be seen whether the "flash" is the sign of an explosion of a bomb on board, a problem in an engine that caught fire, an explosion on impact with the ground or- the least likely hypotheses considered by the experts - a missile from the ground.