On Saturday, Kogalymavia Flight 9268 disembarked from the resort Sharm el-Sheikh in northern Sinai and crashed in the peninsula while en route to St. Petersburg. Reports say the aircraft split in two in mid-air, with one piece disintegrating into flames and the second piece smashing itself to bits. All 224 passengers are believed to be dead, including 217 Russians and four Ukrainians, 17 to 25 of which (depending on the source) were children. Seven crew members were also killed. As of now, 163 bodies have been found within the 20 square kilometer crash radius.
The cause behind the accident remains a mystery, and officials are currently trying to discover what went wrong. The flight data recorder and the voice data recorder from the aircraft’s black box are already being processed in Cairo. While the Islamic State has already claimed responsibility for the crash via online social media, officials have already ruled them out as suspect to their inability to carry out such a feat given the known equipment and skills at their disposal. Rather, they believe the cause of the accident is a technical error. The aircraft had apparently disappeared abruptly from the radar without any distress calls and didn’t reappear until it had hit the surface, according to Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kamel.
Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi says that black box analysis may take “months” before a solution is found. They have the advantage compared to the string of recent lost airplanes in the past years in which black boxes were never found.
Other airlines in the area are already adjusting to prevent another tragedy from occurring until it is confirmed that the crash was not caused by jihadist militants. Emirates, Lufthansa, Air France-KLM, and Qatar Airways are among them and have directed all flights to avoid Sinai entirely, with Flydubai, Air Arabia, and Etihad Airways moving away from hot-spots and remaining cautious of further potential attacks.