Russian Official: Metrojet Plane ‘Broke Up in the Air'

The Russian plane that crashed in Egypt "broke up in the air," an aviation official said Sunday, as Emirates and Fly Dubai annouced they were halting flights over the Sinai Peninsula pending clarity on what downed the airliner — mirroring moves a day earlier from Air France and Lufthansa, NBC News reported.

Intergovernmental Aviation Committee's Victor Sorochenko concluded that the Airbus A321 operated by Metrojet broke up midair before crashing Saturday, killing all 224 people on board. 

Alexander Neradko, head of Russia's federal aviation agency, similarly said investigators believe the plane disintegrated at a high altitude because the plane's fragments have been found scattered over a large area. But both officials said it was too early to make assumptions based on this finding.

Flags flew at half mast over the Kremlin as memorials to the victims sprouted both in and outside the country and Pope Francis joined world leaders offering condolences for the tragedy.

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