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Conflicting reports on cause of deadly Russian plane crash

New York Daily News New York Daily News 1/11/2015 JASON SILVERSTEIN
A child's shoe in front of the debris from a plane crash that killed 224, including 25 children. - Dmitry Lovetsky/AP Photo © Provided by New York Daily News A child's shoe in front of the debris from a plane crash that killed 224, including 25 children. - Dmitry Lovetsky/AP Photo

In the wake of a Russian passenger plane crash that killed all 224 people on board, several major airlines announced they will avoid the area where the tragedy occurred, as details of the crash grew murkier.

Air France, Lufthansa and Emirates all said they will no longer fly over the area in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, where a Metrojet plane reportedly snapped in half while traveling from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg Saturday. Metrojet temporarily suspended all of its flights, at the command of Russian air safety regulators.

The airlines said they would not return to that route until the cause of the crash has been determined — but conflicting reports on the doomed plane’s condition kept pouring in the day after the catastrophe.

Egyptian officials said the plane was inspected before takeoff and was in good condition.

“We are all shocked. It was a good plane,” one official, speaking anonymously, told the Associated Press.

“Everything checked out in 35 minutes.”

But the wife of co-pilot Sergei Trukhachev said he was worried about the aircraft before it took off.

Relatives react after a Russian airliner with 217 passengers and seven crew aboard crashed, as people gather at Russian airline Kogalymavia’s information desk at Pulkovo airport in St.Petersburg, Russia on Oct. 31, 2015. - Getty Images/Getty Images © Provided by New York Daily News Relatives react after a Russian airliner with 217 passengers and seven crew aboard crashed, as people gather at Russian airline Kogalymavia’s information desk at Pulkovo airport in St.Petersburg, Russia on Oct. 31, 2015. - Getty Images/Getty Images

The widow, Natalya Trukhacheva, told Russian TV her husband complained “that the technical condition of the aircraft left much to be desired,” according to The Guardian.

Egyptian authorities refuted a claim from Russian media that the pilot reported technical problems and requested to land at the nearest airport before the plane dropped off the radar at 30,000 feet in clear skies.

Russian media reported the plane was built in 1997, making it one of the oldest Airbus A321s in service worldwide. It had flown 16 times in the week before its final flight, and endured one accident in 2001, when its tail struck a runway while landing in Cairo. Three months ago, a pilot aborted a takeoff because of a system error, but the airline considered this a routine response, according to the Egyptian official.

The plane crashed just 23 minutes after taking off, over an area where Egyptian forces are battling Islamic militants. The airline already issued a flight warning for that region due to the combat.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the disaster, with a local affiliate of the terror group saying it “brought down” the plane, without showing any evidence. Russian officials denied any connection to terrorism.

The remains of those killed on the plane are expected to be returned to their countries Sunday. All of the victims, except for four Ukrainians and one Belarusian, were Russians, and 25 victims were children.

The plane’s black boxes have been sent to Cairo for investigation.


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