Russian airline denies technical fault or pilot error caused Egypt plane crash

- A top official at a Russian airline whose plane crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula shortly after takeoff over the weekend said Monday that no technical fault or pilot error could have caused the disaster, which killed all 224 people on board. 

Alexander Smirnov, the deputy general director of Metrojet, also told reporters that the cause of Saturday's crash "could only have been a mechanical impact on the plane" in the air. He added that the Airbus A321-200 dropped 186 mph in speed and about 5,000 feet in altitude one minute before impact.

When pressed for an explanation about what could have caused this impact, Smirnov insisted that he was not at liberty to discuss details because the investigation was ongoing. He also said the crew did not send a distress call and they did not contact traffic controllers before the crash.

The airline's statements come after Egyptian officials had backed off their initial insistence that the plane went down due to mechanical failure, with the country's president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, saying that "an extensive and complicated technical study" was needed.

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