CAIRO - Egyptians laid flowers and lit candles outside the Russian Embassy in Cairo on late Sunday and some young people gathered to express their condolences.
“We are delivering a message from the voices of the Egyptian youth to the Russian people,” said Mohamed Ezzat. “We give them our sincerest condolences and, God willing, the country will be able to provide justice for those people who died.”
But as officials move into the next phase of their investigation, it is still unclear clear how justice in this case should be delivered.
The plane crashed early Saturday, breaking apart in the air at 9,100 meters, and killing all of the 224 people on board.
The Russian airliner was bound for St. Petersburg, from where most of the people on board had come to enjoy the Sharm el-Sheik resort, a popular tourist destination.
Officials from the Russian airline say the plane was in good condition and the crew was not at fault.
'Only possible explanation'
"The only possible explanation for a break up of the aircraft in the air could be a certain impact, some mechanical or physical impact,” said Alexander Smirnov, Metrojet’s deputy general director.
The plane dropped 300 kph of speed and 1½ kilometers in altitude a minute before before breaking apart in the air, Smirnov said.
Mechanical failures onboard could cause a plane crash, but not in the air, he added. “What it points to is that the plane was not flying but falling down.”
But he did not say what could have caused the impact.
Militants in Sinai claim to have downed the plane, but some experts said the Islamic State affiliates do not have the weapons capability to shoot down a large plane 9,100 meters in the air.
Egyptian officials warn it may be months before the real cause of the crash is discovered. Moscow authorities say no theory has been ruled out.
Two major air carriers, Air France and Lufthansa, have canceled flights over Sinai, as a “precaution” while the cause of the crash remains unclear.
The plane’s black box was transported to Cairo to and is being inspected by Russian, Egyptian, French and German experts as well as representatives from the airline.
“It is expected that all investigation teams will issue a report on the results,” reads a statement released by the Egyptian government on Monday.
But the young people paying their respects at the Russian Embassy on Sunday in Cairo said, regardless of the result, it is important to them that Russia and Egypt maintain a good relationship.
Among other reasons, Egypt’s beleaguered resort tourism industry specifically caters to Russian visitors.
Carrying signs that said such things as, “Our heart goes out to Russia tonight,” in English, the group discussed what happened.
“It must have been technical mistake because the plane was at a very high altitude,” Ahmed Yasser Mohamed said. “And since it is still under investigation we can’t say what happened because we don’t know.”