Investigators from Russia, Egypt, Germany and France will examine the Metrojet passenger plane that crashed in Egypt's Sinai, killing all 224 passengers aboard, as grieving relatives gather to provide DNA for identification of the bodies. Mana Rabiee reports.
If anyone was hoping for survivors, the first images of the crash site dashed such hopes... ... the wreckage of the Metrojet Airbus A321 that crashed into this mountainous area of Egypt's Sinai peninsula is barely recognizable as a passenger plane. The Russian airliner was carrying 224 passengers when it lost radar contact 23 minutes into the flight and plummeted from cruising altitude, killing all aboard. A security official at the scene said many of the dead were strapped to their seats and cell phones scattered about were ringing. By nightfall, both of the plane's black boxes had been found and dozens of victim's bodies moved to a Cairo morgue. Near St Petersburg's Pulkovo airport, where the plane was headed from the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, a special reception area was set up for families of the victims. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) UNIDENTIFIED RELATIVE, WHOSE WIFE AND DAUGHTER WERE ON THE FLIGHT, SAYING: "We are waiting for forensic experts, for them to take our DNA samples. So far we don't have any information." Sinai is the scene of an insurgency by militants close to Islamic State, and IS said on its Twitter page that it took the plane down to punish Russia for its military campaign in Syria -- a claim Russia dismisses. Egypt's civil aviation minister said communication with the plane and air traffic control was normal before the crash but the Russian Embassy in Cairo says Egyptian officials told it the pilot was trying to make an emergency landing. A Russian team is headed to Egypt to investigate the crash along with investigators from France and Germany, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared Sunday a national day of mourning.