Investigators probing the cause of last week's plane crash in the Sinai Peninsula pushed back Sunday on reports that they have detected the sound of an explosion at the end of the Russian jet's voice recordings, as the FBI was asked to help in the investigation in a limited role.
Ayman al-Muqaddam, the head of the investigation committee into the crash, said Saturday that investigators were working to identify a "noise" that was heard in the final second of the Airbus A321's data recording.
But a Sunday statement from the Egypt's Ministry of Aviation — which is involved in a joint investigation that also includes inspectors from Russia, Ireland, Germany and France — urged people not to jump to conclusions as reports surfaced that the sound was an explosion.
"The committee is continuing to work transparently and is under nobody's supervision from Egypt or others and nobody can force it to have an opinion or a direction," the statement said, adding that the sound will need to undergo "wave length analysis" before its source is determined.
Egypt's Ministry of Aviation pointed out that the 58 inspectors involved in the investigation signed a statement of findings that didn't include that the noise heard on the recorder sounded like an explosion.
The document signed by investigators did say that they have observed that the flight broke up in midair 23 minutes after take-off, but "initial observation of the aircraft wreckage does not yet allow for identifying the origin of the in-flight break-up."
The U.S. and Britain have both said a bomb possibly brought down the plane, which broke up in midair on Oct. 31, killing all 224 on board.
The FBI meanwhile has been asked by Russian officials to help with the investigation, a senior FBI official said Saturday, but the FBI's role was described as "quite modest."
"We're checking some things for them, at their request," the FBI official said.