CAIRO — The Egyptian minister for civil aviation insisted Thursday that its airport security is up to international standards and said there was no evidence yet to support the theory that a bomb was planted on the Metrojet plane that came apart over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
“The investigation team does not have yet any evidence or data confirming this hypothesis,” Hossam Kamal said.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond didn’t mince words: “We’ve looked at the broad picture of information available to us, including intelligence, and we have concluded from that that there is a significant possibility that the Russian aircraft was brought down by an explosive device on board.”
CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey says new video, reportedly taken shortly after the crash, shows smoke rising from the wreckage as Egyptian ambulance workers move around the scene.
Officially, U.S. intelligence agencies have declined to speculate on the cause in order not to prejudice the ongoing investigation.
Off the record, however, intel sources have told CBS News they’re leaning toward the bomb theory, based at least in part on “chatter” between ISIS suspects on social media.
A flight tracking website shows the Russian plane plunging to the ground at 300 miles an hour.
Aviation consultant Denny Kelly says, if there was a bomb on the Airbus A321, the wreckage and bodies will provide the evidence.
“There are going to be certain types of markings on the body, and there’s going to be certain types of things, certain markings inside the airplane,” he said, adding that such evidence “can readily be discovered at the scene if the people know what they’re doing.”
The tail section of the plane was found nearly three miles from the main fuselage, reinforcing the theory that it could have broken off in flight due to damage caused 14 years ago when the plane suffered what is known as a “tail strike,” the tail of the plane hitting the ground before the wheels on landing.
A bomb could have the same effect, but with little firm evidence thus far of an explosion, other than two flashes picked up by a U.S. infrared satellite, Russian officials have warned all week against speculation.
Russian investigators said Thursday they were wrapping up the search of the crash area.
Teams analyzing the flight data and cockpit voice recorders — the latter of which reportedly sustained damage — could have as much as a month of work left, however.
They’re urging patience and saying nothing about bombs, or anything else.