On Monday evening, we brought you the latest from what will almost undoubtedly end up being one of the year’s biggest stories.
According to US officials, an infrared satellite detected a “heat flash” concurrent to the mid-air disaster that caused a Russian passenger jet to crash in the Sinai Peninsula killing all 224 people on board. This, the defense official contended, takes the missile theory off the table but does suggest that there could have been an explosion on the plane, either a fuel tank or a bomb.
Although it’s impossible to say whether a video released by ISIS in the hours after the crash is authentic, the assessment detailed above would be broadly consistent with what the footage appears to show.
Not everyone is convinced. A competing theory revolves around whether an incident that saw the plane scrape its tail on a runway in 2001 might have contributed to the catastrophe.
Now, Russian media says that according to an Egyptian forensic expert, victims’ injuries seem to point to a mid-air explosion. Here’s Sputnik:
According to an Egyptian forensic expert, an analysis of injuries sustained by victims of the Russian airliner crash on Saturday in Egypt shows that a mid-air explosion might have occured aboard the Airbus A321 passenger jet, RIA Novosti reported.
On October 31, an Airbus A321 operated by the Russian airline Kogalymavia crashed in the Sinai Peninsula en route to St. Petersburg from the Egyptian resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh. The tragedy has become the largest civilian aircraft disaster in Russian and Soviet history.
"A large number of body parts may indicate that a powerful explosion took place aboard the plane before it hit the ground," said an Egyptian forensic expert who took part in the examination of the bodies of the A321 crash victims.
According to the expert, a DNA analysis would be needed to identify the victims of the Russian airliner crash in Egypt.
In no uncertain terms: the fact that there were body parts scattered in an 8 kilometer radius is all you need to know about what caused the plane to crash.
Still, Egypt’s civil aviation ministry says there's as yet no "proof" to support Moscow's claims that the plane broke apart. Here's Reuters:
Spokesman Mohamed Rahmi said there was no proof yet that the plane had broken up in flight. "This could be a long process and we can’t talk about the results as we go along,” he said.
Well, sure you can, and a lot of people are. Despite Rahmi's contention that no evidence exists that the plane exploded (you know, other than the video from the terrorists which shows it exploding and the testimony of a forensic expert), he did confirm that no distress call was received from the pilot:
“No communication from the pilot was recorded at the navigation centers requesting anything,” he told Reuters.
We'll close with the following from Bloomberg and leave it to readers to draw their own conclusions given everything noted above:
More than a decade before it burst into pieces mid-air, the Russian jetliner that crashed in Egypt on Saturday scraped its tail on a runway during landing and needed to be repaired.
Investigators poring over wreckage of the Metrojet Airbus Group SE A321 in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula will be taking a close look at a 2001 repair to the plane’s tail because it is one of the few things known to cause the type of sudden midair breakup that occurred Saturday, said John Goglia, a former airline mechanic who served on the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.
“If the engineering is done right, it’s not an issue. If the repair follows the engineering data, it’s not an issue,” said Goglia, who isn’t involved in the Metrojet investigation. “But a breakdown in any one of those can and has resulted in catastrophic failures.”
While it may take years for a repair to eventually crack enough to fail, that can lead to a violent explosion damaging an aircraft, according to accident reports.
Such a failure occurred in 2002 when China Airlines Flight 611 flying from Taiwan to Hong Kong broke apart at the spot where the Boeing Co. 747’s tail was repaired 22 years earlier.
Japan Airlines Flight 123 hit a mountain in 1985 after a similar repair came apart, claiming 520 lives. When the repair let loose, it blew off the vertical fin rising out of the tail. Without that fin, the plane couldn’t be controlled.