The cockpit voice recorder of the Russian plane that crashed in the Sinai Peninsula has been deciphered and "a noise" was heard in the last second of the recording, Egyptian investigators said.

"A spectral analysis will be carried out by specialised labs in order to identify the nature of this sound," Ayman al-Muqaddam, the head of the accident investigation committee, said in Cairo on Saturday.

British and US officials, including the leaders of both countries, have suggested that the crash of Metrojet Flight 9268 on October 31 - which killed all 224 people on board - was possibly caused by a bomb aboard the plane.


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Russian and Egyptian authorities have been hesitant to endorse any theory ahead of official results from an ongoing investigation.

'Gathering information'

The Egyptian committee was still "in the information gathering phase," he said, adding that "all possibilities" were being considered, referring to the cause of the crash.

Bad weather had prevented visits to the crash site since Wednesday, but plans were in place to bring the wreckage to Cairo as soon as possible for detailed examination with the assistance of metallurgy specialists.

The scattering of the debris "over a wide area more than 13 kilometres in length" was consistent with an in flight break-up, Muqaddam said, but initial findings did not yet allow authorities to identify the cause.

Parts of the wreckage have still not been found, added Muqaddam.

 Bomb may have downed Russian airliner

Muqaddam said that 58 experts were working on the investigation, including 29 from Egypt. Others specialists came from Russia; from France, where the aircraft was designed; from Germany, the country of its manufacture; and from Ireland, where it was registered.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said earlier that his country was being kept in the dark over reported foreign intelligence reports suggesting that a bomb caused the crash.

"This raises a question mark," Shoukry said. "We are the party that is the most closely connected to the issue.

"We expected that the technical information available would be provided to us instead of being broadcast in the media in this general way," he said.

Deadly crash

The Airbus A321 was headed from the popular Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh to the Russian city of St Petersburg when it crashed. Almost all people on board were Russian.

Russian planes are bringing home thousands of tourists from Egyptian airports, where army personnel are taking control of the repatriation process, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich told reporters following Moscow's suspension of Egypt flights.

"Our Egyptian friends have already taken steps [to provide additional security measures], the military took control of the passenger processing to the flights. They are deployed in Sharm el-Sheikh and
other airports and minimise uncontrolled activities."

Dvorkovich said that around 80,000 Russian tourists are now in Egypt.

Some 10 special flights have been arranged to bring them home, according to the Russian official.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday ordered a halt to all flights to and from Egypt until investigators determine what caused the crash.

Egypt's state-run newspaper al-Ahram reported that Russia, Britain, Germany, and Italy were sending empty planes Saturday to Sharm el-Sheikh to fly home their own nationals.

Source: Agencies