That wraps up our live coverage of the plane crash over North Sinai which killed all 224 passengers and crew on board. An investigation is under way into whether there was a technical fault, and the black box has been retrieved. Meanwhile, international experts have cast doubt on claims made by the Islamic State group that it was behind the disaster. Here's one of the first confirmed pictures of the destroyed aircraft. You can follow more updates on the story here.
- Copyright: AP
Following Air France and Lufthansa's decision to suspend flights over Sinai, British Airways and easyJet have now said that while their routes are regularly reviewed, they have no plans to alter their routes to and from Sharm el-Sheikh.
Egyptian ministers have told a news conference that 129 bodies have been retrieved so far. Half of them were taken to a morgue in Cairo where forensic experts are performing DNA analysis before being flown back to Russia, reports the BBC's Ranyah Sabry in Cairo.
Passengers are queuing up to leave Sharm el-Sheikh airport, hours after the deadly crash in the Sinai Peninsula. The Red Sea resort is popular with Russian tourists - with the exception of three Ukrainians, all of the 224 passengers and crew were Russian.Copyright: AP
As night time falls in Egypt, the bodies of some of the 224 people killed are brought to a morgue in Cairo. Among the victims are 17 children aged between 2 and 17.Copyright: EPA
Some lines coming in now from Egyptian Prime Minister Sharif Ismail, who says the chances of finding survivors are "slim". There was no irregular activity believed to be behind the crash and it will be impossible to determine a cause until the black box is examined, he adds - via Reuters.
Psychologists are meeting with friends and relatives gathered at a hotel near St Petersburg's Pulkovo airport, meanwhile police are busy keeping journalists away, AP reports.Copyright: Reuters
There have been a number of high-profile aviation disasters in recent years, including the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 and the shooting down of flight MH17 over Ukraine last year. This year, the co-pilot of Germanwings Airbus A320 crashed the aircraft in the French Alps, killing 148 people on board. Here's a timeline of aviation disasters over the past 17 years.
Two major airlines, Lufthansa and Air France, have decided to avoid flying over the Sinai Peninsula until they get a clear explanation of what caused Saturday's crash in the area, Reuters reports.
"We took the decision to avoid the area because the situation and the reasons for the crash were not clear," a Lufthansa spokeswoman is quoted by the news agency as saying.
- Quote Message: Russian tourists are very important to the Egyptian economy - one third of all tourists to Egypt, particularly the Sinai Peninsula, come from Russia. The high season here starts this month and it stretches all the way to April. This is quite a huge blow to the Egyptian tourism industry, which has already been suffering for the past five years, since the January 2011 revolution. Unfortunately it seems there's not going to be a big pick up this season either." from Ranyah Sabry, Cairo BBC
One of the emergency workers prays, as they prepare to unload the bodies of the victims.Copyright: AP
Egyptian emergency services are transporting the bodies to Cairo by military plane from Kabret military air base, near the Suez Canal.Copyright: AFP
Russian news website Lifenews has published images of what it says are the first from the scene of the crash, taken from Egyptian media. In one photo, part of the aircraft is seen blackened, scorched and smouldering on the ground.
Egyptian security services stand poised to receive the bodies of some of the plane crash victims outside Zeinhom morgue in Cairo.Copyright: EPA
Despite the earlier plane crash, air traffic is operating normally over the Sinai Peninsula with flights heading both in and out of the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Flight Radar reports.
Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov says the plane could not have been downed by a missile fired by jihadist militants. "Such reports cannot be considered true," he tells the Interfax news agency, according to BBC Monitoring.
"We are in close touch with our colleagues from Egypt and their air traffic authorities, and they have nothing at the moment which could confirm such fabrications," he adds.
Prosecutors in North Sinai have summoned air and ground traffic controllers for questioning over the crash, Egypt's state-owned al-Ahram newspaper reports. A team from the civil aviation ministry has also been instructed to analyse the contents of the plane's black box, it adds.
Relatives of those killed are seen distraught over the news at a hotel near St Petersburg's Pulkovo airport.Copyright: Reuters
Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has telephoned his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to discuss the plane crash, the Kremlin says. President Sisi says he will allow Russian experts to be involved in the investigation into what caused the disaster.
- Quote Message: What is worrying a lot of people in the aviation safety community is the haste with which both the Russian and Egyptian authorities seem to be saying: 'We know this was mechanical failure.' In the event of any disaster like this, particularly when the aircraft is at high attitude, there's generally the need simply to wait until the black boxes - the flight data and cockpit voice recorders - have been analysed and then start to work out the sequence of events. And it has been asserted that perhaps they want to do this on the Egyptian side to rule out any terrorist-related activity, because the area in which the aircraft was flying over is a hotbed of Islamist fighters who are taking on Egyptian forces." from Simon Calder BBC Travel Show
Russia's Investigative Committee, the country's top investigative body, is checking fuel samples taken from the plane during its last refuelling stop in the Russian city of Samara, and questioning those who were involved in preparing the aircraft and its crew, the RIA news agency reports.
The IS statement does not say how militants downed the plane. Sinai Province has shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles (Manpads). However, security experts say that as the plane was flying at 31,000ft (9,450m), it would have been beyond the range of any Manpad missiles.
The jihadist group Islamic State (IS) claims that it downed Flight KGL9268 in a statement published on the Telegram messaging app.
The crash site is in an area where the Egyptian government is fighting an insurgency led by a local IS affiliate called Sinai Province. But Egyptian security sources earlier said there was no indication that the plane had been shot down or blown up.
Medics have begun assigning serial numbers to bodies recovered from the crash site in Sinai, Egypt's foreign ministry says in a statement. They have also begun taking samples and other measures to help identify them, it adds.
A 25-year-old woman at St Petersburg's Pulkovo airport says she is awaiting for her parents, who were on board Flight KGL9268. "I spoke to them last on the phone when they were already on the plane, and then I heard the news," Ella Smirnova tells the AFP news agency. "I will keep hoping until the end that they are alive, but perhaps I will never see them again."
A Russian delegation led by Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov (pictured) left Moscow half an hour ago to head to the site of the crash, the BBC's Rafael Saakov says.Copyright: Getty Images
Egyptian security sources in North Sinai tell Reuters that about 150 bodies have so far been recovered within 5km (3.1 miles) of the crash site.
Here's a map of the flight path.Copyright: BBC
Anxious friends and family of the passengers and crew have been gathering at St Petersburg's Pulkovo airport, awaiting news of their loved ones.Copyright: AP
The Russian state transport regulator, Rostransnadzor, found violations when it conducted a routine flight safety inspection of Kogalymavia in March 2014, the Interfax news agency reports. However, the violations were remedied within the required time period, it says.
The Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) has published a list of what it says is the names of the passengers and crew on its website.
A security source has told Reuters an initial examination indicates the plane crashed due to a technical fault
Kogalymavia will provide free flights to Egypt for relatives of those killed in the crash, and pay out an as yet undecided amount of compensation, the Russian news agency Interfax quotes spokeswoman Oxana Golovina as telling a news conference in Moscow.
Ms Golovina says the company has launched an internal investigation.
- Quote Message: We don't know any details about it, but obviously the initial reports represent tremendous tragedy, loss, and we extend our condolences to the families and all those concerned."
- Copyright: EPA
Russian Emergency Ministry official, Aleksey Anikin, says everything is being done at St Petersburg’s Pulkovo airport to look after the victims' relatives.
"At this moment, an emergency operations centre has been set up. The relatives will be received in the Crowne Plaza Hotel," he told reporters.
He said psychological services would also be offered to the relatives.Copyright: EPA
Kogalymavia airline spokeswoman Oxana Golovina has said the captain of the crashed Airbus - Valery Nemov - had more than 12,000 hours of flying experience, the Russian news agency Interfax reports.Quote Message: Our aircraft was in full working order, our crew was experienced, our pilot had a great deal of flying experience, so we don't know (what caused the crash)"
Russian airline Kogalymavia says it sees no grounds to blame human error for the crash in Sinai, reports Reuters.
Fifteen bodies have been recovered from the crash site in the Sinai Peninsula and transferred to a morgue in the Egyptian capital, the AFP news agency is quoting a government statement as saying.
They have been airlifted to the Zeinhom morgue in Cairo, it said.
Russia's embassy in Egypt tweets (translated): "No survivors in the Russian plane crash in Egypt"
Here's the latest information we have on the crash in Sinai.
Russian journalist Valey Nachey, who is in St Petersburg near the airport where the plane was supposed to land, says relatives are not being given specific information about what happened to the flight.
Relatives of those who died in the plane crash may be able to go the scene of the accident in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, Russia's Tass news agency is quoting an unnamed official at an information centre set up for the crash in St Petersburg as saying.
Roughly three million Russian tourists travel to Egypt every year, according to the AP news agency.
This makes up nearly a third of all of the country's visitors in 2014, it says.
- Copyright: Reuters
- Also known as KolAvia
- Founded in 1993
- Carried out regular and charter flights to other parts of Russia from the western Siberian towns of Kogalym and Surgut, and helicopter flights for the oil and gas industry
- Rebranded as Metrojet in 2012
- After takeover by tourism company TH&C in 2013, began flights to international destinations popular with Russian holiday-makers
- Currently has fleet of seven Airbus-321s and two Airbus-320s.
Egypt's cabinet says there were 214 Russians and three Ukrainians on the flight that went down in Sinai, Reuters reports.
Russian media is reporting the offices of Kogalymavia, the company which owns the airline, are being searched.
Egyptian officials say there are no survivors from the crash of a Russian airliner in Sinai, according to the AP news agency.
Russian media is reporting that the deputy mayor of Pskov, Alexander Kopylov, was on board the plane that crashed on the Sinai Peninsula, along with his wife.
Ivan Tsetsersky, mayor of the city in western Russia, told the Tass news agency that both their names appear on the passenger list.
BBC MonitoringCopyright: BBC
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has said he is "deeply shaken" by the crash.
He posted on Facebook (translated from Russian):Quote Message: A terrible tragedy that has claimed the lives of people who were full of strength and had so many plans. This is a huge and irreplaceable loss. Details of what happened will be meticulously investigated."
Egypt's state-run news agency MENA says the country's Civil Aviation Ministry's investigation team has arrived at the crash scene in central Sinai.
More information is emerging, but here's what we know at the moment:
- A Russian airliner has crashed in central Sinai with more than 200 people on board, according to Egypt's PM
- The BBC's Ranyah Sabry says more than 100 bodies have been recovered and the plane's black box found
- Our reporter says the pilot tried to make an emergency landing, but didn't make it to a nearby airport
- The Airbus A-321 had just left the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, bound for the Russian city of St Petersburg
- All the passengers were Russian, say Egyptian officials
- Russia has declared a day of mourning on Sunday.
- Copyright: BBC
Mikail Robertson from the flight tracking service Flight Radar 24 has been giving more details about what could have happened after the flight left Sharm el-Sheik.
“It was climbing quite normally when after 23 minutes when it passed 30,000ft it suddenly started to lose speed,” he told BBC World.
“It went down from 400 knots to 62 knots and then it suddenly started to drop very fast… after about 20 seconds we lost the signal from this aircraft.”
He said it was hard to say what could have caused this to happen.Quote Message: The very sudden drop of speed and altitude indicates that this was something more than a planned diversion – this was something happening very very fast.”
Earlier it was reported that weather conditions might be hampering rescue efforts, but local weather observations in the vicinity of the rescue scene suggest relatively benign conditions.
There has also been speculation about militant involvement in the crash. BBC Monitoring has profiled the militant group Sinai Province, which is allied to so called Islamic State
But experts say the aircraft's altitude suggests that it could not have been struck from the ground.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared a national day of mourning on Sunday, Reuters reports.
- Copyright: BBC
- Copyright: BBC
The BBC's Ranyah Sabry in Cairo reports that the flight's captain had asked for an emergency landing at El Arish airport, but the plane did not make it and crashed 50km (30 mile) away. People in Egypt are mainly exploring a technical fault in the plane.
Our reporter says more than 100 bodies have been found across a 2km area.
She adds there are two investigative teams in Egypt looking into the crash: One from the prosecution and another from the civil aviation authority.
Both are liaising with the cabinet, which has set up an incident room.
The BBC's Ranyah Sabry reports from Cairo that the black box from the plane has been found.
Russia's Premier League says all football games today will start with a minute of silence following the plane crash in Egypt.
Watch the latest report from the BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Moscow.
There have been a number of air disasters in recent months and years.
In June, 141 died when an Indonesian Hercules C-130 military transport plane crashed into a residential area. In March, Germanwings Airbus A320 airliner crashed in the French Alps near Digne, on a flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf. All 150 people on board died.
2014 saw a number of high-profile incidents - two of which involved Malaysian airlines.
Here's a chronology of major air disasters since 1998.
Our Egypt correspondent Orla Guerin has been providing updates from Cairo.
You can watch her latest dispatch here.
People are gathering at the information desk of Russian airline Kogalymavia at Pulkovo airport in St Petersburg hoping to find out more information about the flight that has crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.Copyright: EPACopyright: AP
Aviation expert Professor Graham Braithwate says conflicting information is understandable in the circumstances of this crash.
All the reports at the moment cannot be correct and jumping on misinformation can be damaging, he says.
The BBC Travel Show's Simon Calder says he understands concerns about flying in light of recent incidents.
High-profile cases have understandably made headlines, but aviation continues to get safer year-on-year, he says.
Egypt has postponed the launch of an initiative to promote tourism because of the Russian plane crash, BBC Monitoring quotes the state-run Mena news agency as saying.
"The conference was postponed due to the presence of the tourism minister at the operation room chaired by Prime Minister Sharif Isma'il to follow up the Russian plane crash," a tourism ministry spokesperson said.
The Russian passengers on board had been in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea, one of the most popular areas in the world for diving:Copyright: AFP
More from Reuters. The news agency reports Russia's Investigative Committee is launching a case against the airline - Kogalymavia.
Their report says the case will be under an article regulating "violation of rules of flights and preparations for them".
Russia's embassy in Egypt has been tweeting about the incident (below in Russian).
Our colleagues at BBC Monitoring have translated the tweets, which say:
- The plane attempted to land at El Arish airport, Egyptian officials say
- The recovery of bodies has begun:
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the country's Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov to fly to Egypt in the wake of the crash.
Information from the Sinai is emerging slowly. Here's what we know at the moment:
- An airliner has crashed in central Sinai, with more than 200 people on board
- It had just taken off from Sharm el-Sheikh and was bound for St Petersburg
- The plane disappeared from radar screen travelling at 31,000ft, according to Egyptian officials
- All of those on board were Russian, they added
- Both Russian and Egypt are expected to hold investigations into the cause of the incident
An officer has told Reuters a number of bodies, including children, have been pulled from the plane wreckage.
This information has not yet been verified by the BBC.Quote Message: I now see a tragic scene. A lot of dead on the ground and many died whilst strapped to their seats."Quote Message: The plane split into two, a small part on the tail end that burned and a larger part that crashed into a rock. We have extracted at least 100 bodies and the rest are still inside."
Egypt's top prosecutor has ordered an investigation into the cause of Saturday's crash, Reuters reports based on a source from the prosecutor's office.
A team will go to the site and investigate debris, Reuters says.
- Copyright: AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed condolences to families of those killed in the crash and ordered the government to launch an official investigation.
BBC News, Cairo
The Russian passenger plane carrying 217 passengers and seven crew people took off from the Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh shortly before 06:00 local time (04:00 GMT).
Twenty three minutes later the plane, bound for St Petersburg, disappeared from radar screens. Among those on board were 17 children.
It is unclear what caused the crash. Militants allied with Islamic state are active in the Sinai Peninsula, but at this stage there is no indication that the aircraft was targeted.
Egyptian officials say all the passengers were Russian. The bodies of the dead will be brought to Cairo.
The wreckage was found in a mountainous area of central Sinai. Access to the site will be tightly controlled by the Egyptian military, which operates closed zones in Northern Sinai.
Voices of trapped passengers could he heard in a section of the plane, Reuters is reporting, quoting an officer on the scene of the crash.
The Israeli military says it was involved in the search for the downed airliner earlier. It says it will continue to offer assistance to Egypt and Russia if needed.
Russian state news agency RIA Novosti is reporting the crew of the crashed plane had reported engine problems during the week, according to a source at Sharm el-Sheikh airport.
The report, in Russian, is here.
Al-Ahram, the Egyptian state-owned news provider, has a report on its website about the crash which quotes a pilot saying it was due to a "technical failure".
The report says Ayman Al-Mokadem is heading a committee to monitor the crash's aftermath and quotes him saying the aircraft's pilot "sensed a technical failure and reported to the aviation authorities that he wanted to land at the nearest airport"l
The pilot appeared to crash while trying to land in Al-Arish's airport in North Sinai, Mr Mokadem said, according to the report.
Reuters is quoting Egyptian PM Sherif Ismail speaking about the crash:Quote Message: The investigation has not started yet... a technical team will move there to start it and there is coordination with the Russian ambassador over the accident and the efforts of the government."
The Russian airliner that crashed in Sinai is an Airbus A-321. The aircraft manufacturer has tweeted:
Egypt's prime minister and other ministers are flying to the site of the plane crash on a private jet, according to a tourism ministry statement translated by Reuters.
The Guardian, which is also following the latest from the Egypt, has posted a link to a statement by Maria Zakharova from Russia's foreign ministry.
According to their translation, it doesn't give any new information, but promises updates as soon as they are available.
The original post, in Russian, is here.
The BBC's Orla Guerin in Cairo says is it likely there will be speculation about militant involvement in the incident - Sinai has an active militant network, with local Jihadis who have allied themselves to so-called Islamic State.
But an aviation source has told her the aircraft was flying at an altitude where it could not have been struck by something from the ground. However, this report has been unconfirmed.
There is also no suggestion at present that Jihadis were involved.
Our correspondent adds that mechanical failure could also be considered.
A service that tracks flights has posted some tweets about the location of the Airbus A-321 when it disappeared from the radar:
BBC Radio 5 Live
Mikail Robertson, from Flight Radar 24 which is a live flight tracking service, says the Russian airliner had been gaining altitude after take off at 03:50 GMT when it developed problems.
“It reached about 30,000ft when it suddenly started to drop very fast," he told BBC’s 5Live Breakfast.
"We tracked a drop of 5,000ft in about one minute and then we lost coverage for this flight.”
They lost track of the flight at 04:14 GMT.
The BBC's Orla Guerin, reporting from the Egyptian capital, Cairo, says there are "very very few hopes" of finding survivors.
Our correspondent says the aircraft had been due to make contact with air traffic control around 20 minutes after take off, but that did not happen.
The Egyptian prime minister is to hold an emergency cabinet meeting.
Egypt's Civil Aviation authority has confirmed the plane has been found down in the Hassana area, south of Arish, Sinai.
The plane was flying at an altitude of 31,000ft when it vanished from radar screens,the statement adds, according to Reuters.
BBC BreakfastCopyright: BBC
Simon Calder, from the BBC Travel Show, says Russian airlines have "a relatively poor" safety record compared with those in Western Europe.
He says the airline running the flight is a small one based in western Siberia. The aircraft is 18-years-old and has a "very good safety record", he adds.
More from Reuters: A security official says the plane went down in a mountainous area in central Sinai and poor weather conditions have made it difficult for rescue crews to get to the scene.
The Egyptian TV channel CBC reports the wreckage of the plane has been found in North Sinai, quoting the head of the emergency services in South Sinai.
A security officer has told Reuters the Russian airliner has been completely destroyed and most passengers are likely to have died.
This information has not been verified by the BBC and is unconfirmed.
News agency Reuters is quoting Egyptian security sources as saying there are no indications the plane was shot down.
- Copyright: BBC
Information is emerging slowly. At the moment, we know the Airbus A-321 had just taken off from Sharm el-Sheikh and was on its way to the Russian city of St Petersburg.
It's thought most of the passengers were Russian tourists.
The plane is operated by the Russian airline Kogalymavia.
The latest reports say it was carrying 217 passengers and seven crew.
Good morning. We'll be bringing you live updates from Egypt, where the prime minister's office has said a Russian airliner, which had more than 200 people on board, has crashed in central Sinai.