British and U.S. intelligence officials said Wednesday that MetroJet Flight 9268 crashed in the Sinai Peninsula last weekend may have been due to a mid-air explosion from a bomb planted by Da’esh (ISIS).
The terrorists may have used a barometric pressure bomb formed from the plastic explosive PETN, according to a report on CNN.
Within hours of the crash, Da’esh claimed responsibility, subsequently taunting in an audio statement on social media: “We are not forced to disclose the mechanism of our downing it. So you may bring the wreckage of the plane and search it, and you may bring your black box and analyze it. Report to us the conclusions.”
Britain has suspended all flights to and from Sharm el-Sheikh, where the doomed flight originated, at least for now, and has issued a travel advisory for its citizens against “all but essential travel” to the Egyptian resort. Britain has also sent its own officials to the airport at Sharm el-Sheikh to supervise current flights departing with citizens to the UK.
Initial inspection of the flight data recorder recovered from the aircraft indicated the recording ceased abruptly, according to a European official who spoke with media.
That evidence supports the likelihood of a mid-air explosion, as did the U.S. satellite imagery of sudden flashes in the atmosphere above the crash site. U.S. officials, who are not formally part of the investigation, told the New York Times on Tuesday that it is still too early to reach any conclusions about the cause of the crash.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in a statement, however, “We have concluded there is a significant possibility that the crash was caused by an explosive device on board the aircraft.”
All 224 on board the flight en route to St. Petersburg lost their lives. Currently the UK government estimates there are up to 20,000 citizens in Sharm el-Sheikh.
It is not clear how they will be able to leave, if they choose to do so, once current flights to the UK are completed. “Passengers who are on the ground in Sharm el-Sheikh will be returned to the UK,” Hammond said. “We are working with the airlines, and the Egyptian authorities put in place emergency procedures and additional screening and additional security” to get them home.