The Russian airplane that crashed in Egypt early yesterday morning split apart in mid-air before falling to the ground, according to Russian aviation experts.
Interstate Aviation Committee director Victor Sorochenko told Russia's RIA Novosti news that the aircraft broke into pieces mid-flight, but did not specify the cause of the plane's apparent disintegration.
Egyptian officials maintain the crash was caused by “technical failures,” while ISIS supporters have claimed sole responsibility. However, the wreckage, strewn over an area of nearly eight square miles, does not seem to indicate any foul play.
Russian and Egyptian officials will continue to investigate the tragic crash.
Until a definitive cause has been identified, German airline Lufthansa and Air France have both re-routed all flights to avoid the Sinai Peninsula region of Egypt, where the plane crashed.
A spokesperson for Lufthansa told Reuters,
We took the decision to avoid the area because the situations and the reasons for the crash were not clear. We will continue to avoid the area until it is clear what caused the crash.
Egyptian officials released a statement confirming they have begun to transport the victims' bodies to a morgue in Cairo. They said,
As medical team has given serial numbers to the bodies of the dead who were found in the site of the crash to start taking the required samples and other measures to identify the bodies.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a national day of mourning today, as friends and family of the victims gathered at the airport in St. Petersburg to grieve the loss of their loved ones.
See footage from the crash site, posted to Youtube by Egyptian news network Al Bawaba, below.