WORLD – Russian airplane destroyed in mid air

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Some of the debris which was recovered from the crashed Russian airliner

A Russian airliner which crashed in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, killing all 224 people on board, broke up in mid-air, a Russian official says.

Victor Sorochenko, the head of Russia’s Interstate Aviation Committee, said it was too early to conclude what caused the crash on Saturday.

He told reporters debris was found across a 20sq km-wide area of Sinai. So far 163 bodies have been found.

Russia is observing a day of mourning after its worst air disaster.

Sorochenko spoke after visiting the site of the debris, near the village of Hasana.

Jihadists allied to so-called Islamic State in Sinai, where such groups are active, had made a claim on social media that they had brought down flight KGL9268.

But Egyptian Prime Minister Sharif Ismail said experts had confirmed that a plane could not be downed at 9,450m (31,000ft), the altitude the Airbus 321 was flying at, by weapons the militants are known to possess.

President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi also urged caution today, saying the investigation into the cause was a “complicated matter” that could take months.

Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov said no evidence had been seen that indicated the plane was targeted, and IS has not produced pictures or video footage to substantiate its claim.

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