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Aviation security specialists say Sharm el-Sheikh has measures as tight as most airports, but do not discount the possibility of a bomb. A slew of unverified reports from Egypt have left the picture confused, but according to one official quoted by Reuters, the tail section appeared to have separated from the main body of the plane and was burning, which could indicate an explosion.
Details of images from the wreckage in Sinai appear to show the skin of the fuselage peeling outwards, which some sources suggest also points to an onboard explosion.
There have been at least two previous cases in which airplanes either broke apart or became unmanageable long after similar tail repairs were done.
A China Airlines Boeing 747 en route to Hong Kong from Taiwan in May 2002 broke into several pieces as it was climbing to 35,000 feet, killing all 225 people on board. The repairs made 22 years earlier on the tail failed, causing a sudden and explosive decompression, according to the analysis by the Taiwanese government.
A Japan Airlines 747 suffered a similar failure in 1985, seven years after a tail strike had been repaired. The crew struggled to control the plane for some 46 minutes after takeoff before it crashed, killing all but four of the 524 people on board.