Metrojet officials announced Monday that the Russian jetliner crash that killed 224 people in the Sinai Peninsula was caused by “an external impact on the plane” that caused it to disintegrate mid-air.
According to the New York Times, officials say the investigation has ruled out other causes for the the crash, which occurred early Saturday morning. Reports indicate the St. Petersburg-bound 18-year-old Airbus A321-200 had been in the air about twenty minutes when it suddenly plummeted from around 33,000 feet above the Peninsula.
“We absolutely exclude the technical failure of the plane, and we absolutely exclude pilot error or a human factor,” Alexander A. Smirnov, a Metrojet deputy director for aviation, said at a press conference Monday.
The airline has not identified the source of the impact and authorities have not confirmed it was an attack. But according to unconfirmed reports, an ISIS-affiliated group called the Sinai Province of the Islamic State has claimed responsibility, saying it downed the plane in retaliation for Russia’s military interference in Syria.