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Satellite images suggest explosion downed a Russian plane

US satellite images suggest that an explosion downed a Russian passenger jet over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31, casting doubt on the theory that the airliner was struck by a missile.

"There was an explosion of some kind" and "the plane disintegrated at a very high altitude," a senior US official told. He said there was "no evidence a missile of any kind brought down the plane."

That a missile had struck the plane was among the handful of theories that emerged after Kogalymavia/Metrojet Flight 9268 went down, killing all 224 on board.

A few hours after the crash, an affiliate of the Islamic State (IS) group that is fighting Egyptian forces in the Sinai claimed responsibility for downing the plane in response to Russian air strikes in Syria, although Russian officials have questioned the credibility of the claim.

The deputy general director for the airline company Kogalymavia, which operates as Metrojet, said on November 2 that pilot error or technical problems were not to blame for the crash of the jet in Egypt.

The Airbus went down over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31 about 23 minutes after taking off from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St. Petersburg. Officials say the crash is the deadliest air disaster in Russian and Soviet aviation history.

The lack of a distress call, and the fact that the wreckage was strewn over a wide area, have helped support the widespread belief that the aircraft broke up suddenly in midair.

The Egyptian government has said the black-box recorders are being examined by Egyptian and Russian experts along with specialists from Airbus and from Ireland, where the aircraft was registered.

U.S. officials have said they are not aware of any direct evidence of terrorist involvement.