Egypt pushed back on Saturday against international suspicions a bomb downed a Russian plane in the Sinai, as intensifying restrictions on air travel threatened to cripple its vital tourism industry.
In the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, from where the doomed airliner took off on October 31, thousands of Russian and British tourists waited anxiously for word of when they might be able to fly home.
Moscow on Friday halted all Russian flights to Egypt and London has stopped British flights to Sharm. Empty aircraft are to be sent out to bring home stranded holidaymakers but the process will be slow.
Sources in France close to the crash probe told AFP that black box data pointed to a bomb having gone off and a sudden, violent demise of the Airbus less than half an hour after takeoff.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has said that a bomb “had more likely than not” been the cause of the explosion in which all 224 people on board lost their lives.
But Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Saturday the Egyptian-led inquiry into disaster had yet to establish any theory about the cause.
“We have not dismissed any possibility but there is no hypothesis yet, before the investigations are over and a full report is ready,” Shoukry said.
He said that foreign intelligence that had triggered the international travel restrictions had not been shared with Egypt.
“We expected that any technical information should have been shared with us, at a technical level, before publicising it in the media,” he said.
Already battered by years of unrest, Egypt is heavily reliant on tourism revenues and fears the impact any firm determination that a bomb caused the crash would have on the key industry.