- A plane operated by Russian airline Kogalymavia crashed in Egypt
- The Airbus A-321 went down the restive Sinai peninsula
- Flight 7K 9268 from Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg carried 224 people
- Egyptian authorities said all those on board were killed in the incident
- The Islamic State jihadi group has dubiously claimed it downed the aircraft
- Authorities say evidence suggests a technical failure was to blame
More than 100 bodies have been pulled from the plane wreckage so far, the Egyptian government said, the BBC reports. They are being taken to a Cairo morgue for examination before being flown to Russia for burial.
Flight operator Kogalymavia, also known as Metrojet, has identified the crashed plane captain as Valery Nemov.The airline described him as an "experienced" pilot who had clocked 12,000 air hours, including 3,860 flying A321s.
The company said the aircraft was in good shape, with all safety checks duly carried out. The plane underwent required factory maintenance in 2014.
The Kremlin has published a statement reporting on a phone conversation between President Vladimir Putin and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Europe's aviation giants Lufthansa and Air France-KLM have said they are to avoid flying over the Sinai peninsula until the causes for this morning plane crash are clear.
"We will continue to avoid the area until it is clear what caused the crash," Lufthansa told Reuters. Air France- KLM described the decision as a "precaution".
The move comes after the Islamic State jihadi group claimed it was responsible for the disaster despite little or no supporting evidence.
Lufthansa also offered its condolences to the victims on Twitter.
The first images from the crash have been published by Russian website Lifenews. The pictures show to smoke rising from charred wreckage as military personnel is seen in a vast desert area in the background.
IS claim that it downed flight 7K 9268 in Sinai has raised a few eyebrows, with many analysts doubting the jihadi group has capability necessary for shooting down an passenger plane.
Egypt's foreign minister said they will closely cooperate with the Russians in the probe into the plane crash.
Sameh Shoukry said the government was commitment "to uncover the circumstances surrounding the incident, in full cooperation and coordination with the Russian side," AP reported.
A purported passenger list of flight 7K9268 has been posted online by the Russian association of tour operators.
The Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the plane crash in an online statement. The jihadi group said it downed the aircraft although it didn't specify how. Its local branch is active in the restive area where flight 7K9268 came down but it is not known to have weaponry necessary to shoot down a passenger flight flying at high altitude.
Egyptian officials said a technical problem was most likely the cause of the incident, adding there is no indication the Aribus A321 was downed. IS claim is in line with the group's terror propaganda campaign.
Flight operator Kogalymavia has pledged to offer compensation and free flights to Egypt to relatives of the victims, Interfax news agency reported. The company's offices were earlier raided by police as part of an official investigation into the crash.
US Secretary of State John Kerry offered his condolences to the families of the victims.
"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," he said during an official visit to Kyrgyzstan.
Aircraft manufacturer Airbus has confirmed it was one of its planes that went down in Egypt.
British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted:
Egyptian officials said three Ukrainian nationals were among the passengers that were previously thought to be all Russians, Reuters reported. 138 passengers were women, 62 men and 17 children.
Hopes of finding survivors have faded away as Egyptian officials told AP all those on board flight 7K 9268 have died in the crash.
Russian Prime Minster Dmitry Medvedev said he is "deeply shocked" by the tragedy in a tweet.
Meanwhile Egypt's civil aviation authority chief Mahmud al-Zinati confirmed to AFP that all 17 children on board died in the crash.
Germany's foreign office tweeted:
Meanwhile Russian president Vladimir Putin has as declared a national day of mourning on Sunday 1 November.
Members of the Russian Emergencies Ministry have been deployed to St Petersburg Pulkovo airport to provide support to relatives of passengers and crew of the crashed plane that are gathering there, waiting for news on their loved ones.
Plane tracker website Flight Radar has tweeted a looping payback of the route of flight 7K9268.
The Kremlin official twitter account wrote:
Egyptian rescue teams said they have found the aircraft's black box.
25-year-old Ella Smirnova whose parents were on board flight 7K9268 told AFP in St Petersburg: "I spoke to them last on the phone when they were already on the plane, and then I heard the news.
"I will keep hoping until the end that they are alive, but perhaps I will never see them again".
Meanwhile Moscow said it has deployed rescue teams to Egypt to help local authorities.