A US infrared satellite has reportedly detected a heat flash at the time a Russian passenger jet went down in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, a US official has said, as the investigation into the deadly plane crash continues.
The official told NBC News on Tuesday that the US intelligence community believes that it could have been some kind of explosion on the plane itself, either a fuel tank or a bomb. The same satellite imagery ruled out a surface-to-air missile attack, the news channel reported.
“The speculation that this plane was brought down by a missile is off the table,” the official told NBC News. The jet crashed on Saturday, killing all 224 passengers and crew on board. Investigators are examining all possible causes as part of an Egyptian-led probe into the disaster that also involves experts from Russia, Airbus, and Ireland, where the aircraft was registered.
Analysts have dismissed claims that the jet was shot down by a group affilitated to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) if it was flying at a cruising height of 9,000 metres, but did not rule out that a bomb might have been planted on board. A second US defence official also confirmed that the US surveillance satellite detected a “flash or explosion” in the air over the peninsula at the time of the crash, NBC News reported. According to the official, “the plane disintegrated at a very high altitude,” when, as the infrared satellite indicates, there was an explosion of some kind”.