Official: Russian airliner broke up at high altitude

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

The Metrojet charter crashed Saturday morning 23 minutes after taking off from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, a top destination for Russian tourists. All 224 people on board died.

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — Russia’s top aviation official says the Russian passenger plane that crashed in Egypt had broken up at high altitude.

Alexander Neradko, head of the federal aviation agency, said the large area over which fragments of the plane were scattered indicated that it disintegrated while flying high. Neradko wouldn’t comment on possible reason for the crash, saying the probe is ongoing.

Neradko is in Egypt to inspect the crash site along with two Russian Cabinet ministers.

The plane’s flight data and cockpit voice recorders were recovered from the crash site, which spreads out over 16 square kilometers (over 6 square miles) some 70 kilometers (44 miles) south of the Egyptian city of el-Arish.

The Metrojet charter crashed Saturday morning 23 minutes after taking off from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, a top destination for Russian tourists. All 224 people on board died — the vast majority were Russians.