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Flight 7K9268: What we do and don’t know about Russia’s deadliest-ever air crash

As experts prepare to analyze the flight recorders, the number of theories speculating about the demise of the Russian plane crash that killed 224 people on Saturday is proliferating by the hour. RT separates the facts from the conjecture.

LIVE UPDATES: Russian passenger jet crash over Sinai: Aftermath, reactions

What was the sequence of events leading up to the tragedy?

The Airbus A321-200 took off from the Egyptian seaside resort of Sharm El-Sheikh at 5:51am local time (3:51 UTC), in the direction of St.Petersburg. Some 22 minutes later, air control, according to local officials, lost contact with the jet, which by then had climbed to 9,450 meters (31,000 feet ).

How did the plane crash?

The head of Russian aviation agency Rosaviatsia, Aleksandr Neradko, has said that “all signs testify to the fact that the destruction of the structure of the airplane took place in the air and at a great altitude.” The principal evidence is that the remains of the plane and the bodies have been scattered over an area measuring about 8 km by 4 km. An Egyptian military source told the media that the plane cracked open into two main segments, one of which collided with a rock on impact.

Why did it crash?

This is the big question, as of now. Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL)-affiliated militants, based in Sinai, stole a march on officials, when they claimed responsibility for the downing of the plane. Russian authorities – backed up by Egyptian officials – have dismissed the boasts as being out of hand, saying the terrorists in the region do not possess the specialized equipment necessary to shoot down a large passenger jet flying at cruising height. Nonetheless, several major carriers have diverted their planes from the route, at least for the time being.