St Petersburg: The first 10 bodies of victims of Saturday's plane crash over Egypt were identified by their families on Tuesday, a string of tearful relatives leaving the city crematorium.
Alexei Smirnov of the Russian emergency situations ministry said that a total of 140 bodies and more than 100 body parts were delivered to St. Petersburg on two government planes on Monday and Tuesday and that a third plane is expected to bring more remains later today.
Metrojet's Airbus A321-200 en route from Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg crashed over the Sinai Peninsula on Tuesday, killing all 224 on board. The overwhelming majority of the passengers were Russian holidaymakers flying home.
Mourners continued to come to St. Petersburg's Pulkovo airport on Tuesday to lay flowers and leave paper planes and soft toys at the arrivals hall. On the outskirts of town, tearful families of the victims were leaving the premises of the crematorium where the identification procedures are taking place.
The Tass news agency on Tuesday quoted Alexander Rzhanenkov, an official at the St. Petersburg city hall, as saying that the first two bodies could be released to their families on Tuesday. He did not identify the victims but said they were from the St. Petersburg suburbs and a neighboring region.
Alexander Agafonov, head of the Russian rescue mission in Egypt, said in a televised conference with other officials Tuesday afternoon that searchers have not found a single additional body on Tuesday having combed a 28 square-kilometer (10.8 square-mile) area. Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov said the site "should be studied centimeter by centimeter."
"If you need to sift through the sand where the remains or pieces of the fuselage could be, do it," he said. Confusing reports and theories have emerged as to what could have caused the crash.
Some aviation experts raised the possibility that a bomb on board the Airbus brought it down, while others cited an incident in 2001 when the aircraft grazed the runway with its tail while landing.