News / Europe

    US Satellite Detects Flash At Time of Russian Plane Disaster

    A woman reacts standing at pictures of the plane crash victims are attached to the fence at Dvortsovaya (Palace) Square in St.Petersburg, Russia, Nov. 3, 2015.
    A woman reacts standing at pictures of the plane crash victims are attached to the fence at Dvortsovaya (Palace) Square in St.Petersburg, Russia, Nov. 3, 2015.
    VOA News

    A U.S. military satellite detected a heat flash at the time a Russian jetliner crashed over the Sinai Peninsula last weekend, authorities said Tuesday, but the cause of the accident remains a mystery.

    Authorities have ruled out the possibility that a missile hit the aircraft before it broke into pieces and plunged 9,400 meters to the Sinai desert, killing all 224 people aboard. Neither a missile launch nor engine burn has been detected.

    But experts told U.S. media outlets that the heat flash could point to a catastrophic event aboard the aircraft, such as an exploding bomb, the explosion of an aircraft engine, or a fire aboard the Metrojet A-321, or even just the aircraft parts hitting the ground.

    Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on Tuesday dismissed as "propaganda" claims by Islamic State insurgents they brought down a Russian jetliner that crashed in the Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people aboard.

    "When there is propaganda that it crashed because of ISIS, this is one way to damage the stability and security of Egypt and the image of Egypt," Sissi told the BBC, using an acronym for the Islamic State group.

    "Believe me, the situation in Sinai, especially in this limited area, is under our full control," he said.

    Meanwhile, investigators in Egypt began their examination of the flight recorders recovered from the wreckage of the Metrojet A-321 and Russian families began the sad process of identifying 140 bodies that were transported home to St. Petersburg.

    Alexander Smirnov, the deputy general director of Metrojet, the Russian airline company speaks to the media about their plane, which crashed Saturday in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, in Moscow, Russia, Nov. 2, 2015.
    Alexander Smirnov, the deputy general director of Metrojet, the Russian airline company speaks to the media about their plane, which crashed Saturday in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, in Moscow, Russia, Nov. 2, 2015.

    A Russian emergency official said 10 of the crash victims had been identified. In addition, more than 100 parts of bodies, personal belongings and documents have been recovered the desert crash site.  

    The plane went down Saturday over the Sinai about 20 minutes after takeoff from the airport at the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh on a flight to St. Petersburg. Three Ukrainians and a Belarussian were among the fatalities.

    'Minor damage'

    Russian transportation officials say the cockpit voice and flight data recorders recovered from the jetliner sustained only "minor" damage.

    Cairo said Egyptian and Russian investigators are examining the so-called black boxes.

    German and French specialists from Airbus, the plane's manufacturer, and from Ireland, where the plane was registered, are also looking at the flight recorders for clues to the cause of the accident.

    One investigator said the initial analysis showed the plane was not struck from the outside and the pilot did not make a distress call before the plane disappeared from flight controllers' radar.

    FILE - The Metrojet's Airbus A321 with registration number EI-ETJ that crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, takes off from Moscow's Domodedovo airport, Russia, Oct. 20, 2015.
    FILE - The Metrojet's Airbus A321 with registration number EI-ETJ that crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, takes off from Moscow's Domodedovo airport, Russia, Oct. 20, 2015.

     

    Cairo and Moscow have played down claims from Egypt's Islamic State branch that it downed the plane.

    Aviation and military experts have voiced doubt extremists had missiles capable of hitting a target at an altitude of 9,400 meters.

    'No direct evidence'

    In Washington, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said he knew of "no direct evidence" linking the crash to terrorism. He also said it was "unlikely" that Islamic State had the technical expertise to carry out such an attack, but said "I wouldn't rule it out."

    White House spokesman Josh Earnest said U.S. investigators had offered to help probe the disaster. But he did not say whether that offer had been accepted by Moscow.

    Russia's Ria Novosti news agency quoted Russian investigator Viktor Sorochenko as saying fragments of the Airbus A-321 were "strewn over a large area." He spoke after visiting the crash site.

    A woman places flowers in front of the portraits of crew members of the crashed Airbus A321 plane, operated by Russian airline Kogalymavia, in the company's office in Moscow, Russia, Nov. 2, 2015.
    A woman places flowers in front of the portraits of crew members of the crashed Airbus A321 plane, operated by Russian airline Kogalymavia, in the company's office in Moscow, Russia, Nov. 2, 2015.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin said the crash was a tragedy.

    "Without any doubt everything should be done so that an objective picture of what happened is created, so that we know what happened," Putin said.

    Russia has sent about 100 experts to help Egyptian authorities search for the remains of victims and the aircraft debris.

    Several airlines, including Air France, Lufthansa, Dubai-based Emirates and Qatar Airways, have said they will stop flying over the Sinai peninsula for safety reasons.  

    Egyptian Civil Aviation chief Hossam Kamal said safety checks before the flight did not turn up any problems, and he said the pilot did not issue a distress call before the plane disappeared.

    VOA's Zlatica Hoke contributed to this report.

    WATCH: Related video report by VOA's Zlatica Hoke

    Investigation Into Cause of Russian Plane Crash in Egypti
    X
    November 03, 2015 12:06 PM
    Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, say everything will be done to determine the cause of Saturday's plane crash in Egypt that killed all 224 people on board, most of them Russian tourists returning to St. Petersburg from an Egyptian Red Sea resort. More than half of the bodies have been found at the crash site on the Sinai Peninsula, and Egyptian authorities have expanded the search area in an effort to find others. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    November 04, 2015 12:03 AM
    "Russian President Vladimir Putin said the crash was a tragedy."

    He also said the demise of the USSR was a tragedy. So much for what he says. The only thing less tragic in the 20th century was the defeat of the Nazis and their axis of heII.

    The real tragedy is Putin himself. He's taken Russia down a course that is leading the whole country into a train wreck. And over 80% of Russians are only too happy to ride on that train with him. The terrorist have a lot of incentives to strike Russia. This may be just the beginning of their war. Russia is very vulnerable. You can't beat terrorists with atom bombs and nuclear submarines.

    by: Peter from: Canada
    November 03, 2015 9:57 PM
    Putin might have understood the agony of MH17 victims' relatives now.

    by: Anonymous
    November 03, 2015 11:44 AM
    If it comes out that ISIS or AQ did this, then that's the end for these groups.
    Russia and Russians will 'finish' them, and it won't matter how much NATO lobbies to keep these groups in business or how much Saudis/Turks spend money to save/promote these groups.

    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    November 03, 2015 10:53 AM
    Islamic extremists associated with the Islamic Brotherhood, the father of al Qaeda and other Sunni terrorist organizations has said it would target Egypt's tourist economy. Therefore it should come as no surprise that a Russian passenger airline would be an object of attack.

    Russia seems very concerned that the bodies of the victims are returned to Russia for burial ASAP. Too bad for the relatives and friends of the victims of MH17 that Putin's thugs in Ukraine held up return of those victims' bodies for weeks, even months. Russia is also doing what it can to disconnect this event from its air war campaign in Syria.

    The US has offered assistance to Russia in the investigation. Americans are very skilled at this tedious work and determining the cause can take years. Every scrap of evidence no matter how seemingly insignificant is considered important. The remains of the aircraft are literally reassembled in a hangar to study how the event occurred. Even components of bombs are gathered and reassembled to see how they work and clues to who made them.
    In Response

    by: anyonymous from: usa
    November 03, 2015 5:55 PM
    the topic is about reasons of airplane accident . is a terrorist act? your argument is irrelevant to the topic. we are not the action of another plane crush . let us stick with the topic .keep your view about Russia in another chance

    by: Haron from: Afghanistan
    November 03, 2015 9:28 AM
    all story is narrate that there is a mass, but temporary military operations need, by Russia warships and airstrikes. this could be three to four weeks of air operations. Putin should eliminate elements whom are conduct with extremism.

    and its the responsibilities of Egypt government to coordinate with Russia government on the basis of air military operations against militants at Sinai peninsula.

    by: Marcio from: Brazil
    November 03, 2015 8:30 AM
    It's was a terrible accident whether or not an terrorist attack. God save the victm's souls.

    by: fatima touray from: cardiff
    November 03, 2015 8:27 AM
    they need some one to help

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