Further fuelling speculation that the crashed Russian airliner in Egypt was shot down, Islamic State released a video purporting to show the moment the Airbus A321 plummeted through the sky before hitting the ground. The footage which cannot be verified shows a large structure resembling a plane falling through the air, before splitting in two.
However, satellite imagery does not back up their claims that a missile brought down a Russian airliner over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula according to US officials. A heat flash detected by infrared satellites at the time and place of the explosion suggests the plane was destroyed internally by a bomb or a fuel tank explosion.
Several experts now believe that a small bomb or fuel tank explosion appear to be the most likely cause of the crash, casting heavy doubt on Islamic State claims.
The Airbus A321 had just left the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, bound for the Russian city of St Petersburg. Wreckage of the aircraft has been found in the Hassana area. It disappeared from radar screens when travelling at 9,500m (31,000ft), Egyptian officials said.
A statement from Egypt’s Ministry of Civil Aviation said search and rescue teams found the wreckage of the Russian passenger jet in the Hassana area where Egyptian security forces are fighting a burgeoning Islamic militant insurgency.
The aircraft was operated by the small Russian airline Kogalymavia, based in western Siberia. Russian authorities say it was carrying 217 passengers, 17 of them children, and seven crew. Most were Russian tourists.
Northern Sinai is home to groups of Islamist militants, many affiliated to Islamic State, but it is now being claimed that there are no indications the plane was shot down.