Russian Airline Rules Out Technical Fault As Cause of Crash

Update | The Russian airline whose plane crashed in Egypt over the weekend, killing its 224 passengers, has blamed "external mechanical activity" for the crash, ruling out the possibility that a technical fault or a lack of fuel brought the liner down, state news agency Itar-Tass reports.

The airline Kogalymavia held a special press conference on Monday to discuss any preliminary observations into the crash of the Airbus А321 as Russia and Egypt's emergency services continue to investigate the exact circumstances of the incident.

"At the moment this catastrophic situation began unfolding the cabin crew completely lost working control [of the aircraft]," Victor Yung, the deputy director of the airline, told journalists. "Due to this, there was not even a single attempt to establish a connection [with the ground] and notify controllers of the emergency situation on board."

The official added that, according to the airline's information, the only cause for the crash was external interference.

"The airplane was...not really flying but falling," Yung said. He added that the plane appeared to sustain "significant constructional damage" at an altitude of 1.5 kilometers (0.93 miles.)

Yung ruled out explanations linking fuel problems to the crash, saying that such an issue could have led to the engine ceasing to work but not to the liner coming apart in mid-air. Kogalymavia also ruled out human error as a factor.

This account contradicts one of the sources from the Egyptian investigative body, currently tasked with determining the circumstances of the crash. Speaking to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, the source ruled out external interference as a cause.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has refused to rule out the plane being downed as a result of a deliberate attack, state news agency Itar-Tass reports.

"At present we cannot exclude any of the versions," Peskov said. "Generally speaking, the investigation is just beginning its work. Which version will form the basis for the investigation looking forward, this we cannot say at the moment."

Speaking at a defense summit in Washington the director of the CIA, John Brennan, said that there is no "direct evidence" that the crash was due to a deliberate militant attack.