Egyptian and Russian investigators are working to piece together the cause of the crash of a Russian airliner in the Sinai peninsula with 224 people on board.

Flight 7K9268 had left Egypt’s Sharm el Sheikh airport early on 31 October heading for St Petersburg, with 217 passengers, including 17 children, and seven crew before losing contact with flight controllers less than 30 minutes into the trip. The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has called today a day of national mourning; it is thought nearly impossible that survivors will be found. The vast majority of those on board were Russian nationals.

Investigators have refused to rule out any potential cause of the crash, from technical problems to human error .

A claim by an affiliate of Islamic State (Isis) that it had “brought it down” complicates matters further. Officials and experts were quick to pour scorn on the claim by the Province of Sinai group. But even if the claim is proved false, it leaves a headache for Mr Putin over Russia’s involvement in Syria’s civil war – a bombing campaign that began at the end of September – which is intended to confront the threat of Isis.

Egyptian officials travelled to the wreckage of the Airbus A321 in the Sinai peninsula, while the families of some of the 214 Russian nationals (three passengers were said to be Ukrainian) gathered at St Petersburg’s Pulkovo airport, awaiting news of their loved ones.

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