Noise heard in doomed Russian plane black box
CAIRO (AP) – A noise was heard in the last second of the cockpit voice recording from the Russian plane that crashed last week in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, the head of the joint investigation team said Saturday, bolstering US and British suspicions that the plane was brought down by a bomb.
However, Ayman el-Muqadem warned it was too early to say what caused the plane to apparently break up in mid-flight. Analysis of the noise was underway.
“All scenarios are being considered...it could be lithium batteries in the luggage of one of the passengers, it could be an explosion in the fuel tank, it could be fatigue in the body of the aircraft, it could be the explosion of something,” said El-Muqadem, who is Egyptian and leading the investigation committee that includes experts from Russia, France, Germany and Ireland, where the plane was registered. El-Muqadem appeared alone at the news conference in Cairo.
US and British officials have cited intelligence reports as indicating that the Oct. 31 flight from the Sinai resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg was brought down by a bomb on board. All 224 people onboard, most of them Russian tourists, were killed.
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.
El-Muqadem said debris was found scattered across a 13-kilometer (8-mile) stretch of desert, indicating the Airbus A321-200 broke up mid-air, but initial observations don't shed light on what caused it. Some pieces of wreckage were still missing, while the recovered pieces will be taken to Cairo for analysis, he said.
Egyptian airport and security officials told The Associated Press on Saturday that authorities were questioning airport staff and ground crew who worked on the plane and had placed some employees under surveillance. The officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. The officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Also Saturday, Egypt’s foreign minister complained that Western governments had not sufficiently helped Egypt in its war on terrorism.