Russian plane crash: Tourists stranded in Sharm el-Sheikh

Drone Assesses Metrojet Crash Site in Egypt

"Emergency measures" were being drafted Thursday to rescue thousands of stranded vacationers in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh as investigators focused on an ISIS-linked bomb as the likely cause of the Metrojet plane crash.

Intelligence reports indicate that a device placed on the Russian charter jet caused it to break up in midair Saturday, killing all 224 on board, U.S. officials told NBC News. Investigators are said to be focused on the possibility that ISIS operatives or sympathizers were directly involved.

The emerging probability of a deadly security lapse triggered Britain to suspend flights and advise against all but essential air travel to the Egyptian tourism hub, while at least three top officials at the airport, including its chief of security, were fired.

U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Thursday there is a "significant possibility that the Russian aircraft was brought down by an explosive device on board."

He said it was safe for tourists to remain in the resort for now, but added: "We will not allow any U.K.-bound aircraft to take off from Sharm el-Sheikh until we are absolutely certain that it is safe for it to do so."

Russia mourns victims of the plane crash in Egypt:

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Russia mourns victims of plane crash in Egypt
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Russian plane crash: Tourists stranded in Sharm el-Sheikh
A man looks at candles and flowers in Simferopol on November 1, 2015 in memory of the victims of a jetliner crash. Russia mourned its biggest ever air disaster after a passenger jet full of Russian tourists crashed in Egypt's Sinai, killing all 224 people on board. A Russian airliner that crashed in Egypt broke up 'in the air', an investigator said on November 1, as the bodies of many of the 224 people killed on board were flown home. AFP PHOTO / MAX VETROV (Photo credit should read MAX VETROV/AFP/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - NOVEMBER 1: People mourn the victims of Airbus A321 crash at the Palace Square on November 1, 2015 in St. Petersburg, Russia. A Russian Airbus-321 aircraft with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31. According to Egypt's Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St. Petersburg. (Photo by Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images)
A woman reacts in central Saint Petersburg on November 1, 2015, as people gather to light candles in memory of the victims of a jetliner crash. Flags flew at half-mast in Russia on November 1 as the country mourned its worst air disaster after a jetliner full of Russian tourists crashed in Egypt, killing all 224 on board. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVA (Photo credit should read OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)
SAINT-PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - NOVEMBER 1: Russian people lay flowers, toys and light candles to memory of Russian plane accident in Egypt on October 31, at Dvortsovaya square in Saint-Petersburg, Russia on November 1, 2015. (Photo by Sergey Mihailicenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Women look at candles and flowers in Simferopol on November 1, 2015 in memory of the victims of a jetliner crash. Russia mourned its biggest ever air disaster after a passenger jet full of Russian tourists crashed in Egypt's Sinai, killing all 224 people on board. A Russian airliner that crashed in Egypt broke up 'in the air', an investigator said on November 1, as the bodies of many of the 224 people killed on board were flown home. AFP PHOTO / MAX VETROV (Photo credit should read MAX VETROV/AFP/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - NOVEMBER 01: A woman holds a candle at a memorial for the victims of Airbus A321 crash at the Pulkovo Airport on November 1, 2015 in St. Petersburg, Russia. A Russian Airbus-321 aircraft with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St. Petersburg. (Photo by Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - NOVEMBER 01: A woman cries near a 'memorial' to the victims of the Airbus A321 crash at the Pulkovo Airport on November 1, 2015 in St. Petersburg, Russia. A Russian Airbus-321 aircraft with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St. Petersburg. (Photo by Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - NOVEMBER 01: People mourn the victims of Airbus A321 crash at Pulkovo Airport on November 1, 2015 in St. Petersburg, Russia. A Russian Airbus-321 aircraft with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St. Petersburg. (Photo by Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - NOVEMBER 01: Candles, toys and flowers are seen at the 'memorial' of the victims of the Airbus A321 crash at the Pulkovo Airport on November 1, 2015 in St. Petersburg, Russia. A Russian Airbus-321 aircraft with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St. Petersburg. (Photo by Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - NOVEMBER 01: People mourn the victims of Airbus A321 crash at Pulkovo Airport on November 1, 2015 in St. Petersburg, Russia. A Russian Airbus-321 aircraft with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St. Petersburg. (Photo by Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images)
Relatives react at Pulkovo international airport outside Saint Petersburg after a Russian plane with 224 people on board crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31, 2015. Ambulances reached the site and began evacuating 'casualties,' officials and state media reported, without elaborating on their condition. The plane took off early in the morning from the southern Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh bound for Saint Petersburg in Russia but communication was lost 23 minutes after departure, officials said. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVA (Photo credit should read OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives react at Pulkovo international airport outside Saint Petersburg after a Russian plane with 224 people on board crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31, 2015. Ambulances reached the site and began evacuating 'casualties,' officials and state media reported, without elaborating on their condition. The plane took off early in the morning from the southern Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh bound for Saint Petersburg in Russia but communication was lost 23 minutes after departure, officials said. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVA (Photo credit should read OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 31: Relatives of passengers of Russian Airbus-321 aircraft react at Pulkovo international airport in Saint Petersburg, Russia on October 31, 2015. A Russian Airbus-321 aircraft with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, according to the Egyptian Prime Minister's office. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St Petersburg. (Photo by Sergey Mihailicenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Relatives react at Pulkovo international airport outside Saint Petersburg after a Russian plane with 224 people on board crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31, 2015. Ambulances reached the site and began evacuating 'casualties,' officials and state media reported, without elaborating on their condition. The plane took off early in the morning from the southern Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh bound for Saint Petersburg in Russia but communication was lost 23 minutes after departure, officials said. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVA (Photo credit should read OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative reacts at Pulkovo international airport outside St Petersburg after an Airbus A321 of Russian airline Kogalymavia with 224 people on board crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31, 2015. Egypt has recovered the black box of the Russian airliner that crashed on October 31 in the restive Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board, the prime minister's office said. The plane took off early in the morning from the southern Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh bound for Saint Petersburg in Russia but communication was lost 23 minutes after departure. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVA (Photo credit should read OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative reacts at Pulkovo international airport outside Saint Petersburg after a Russian plane with 224 people on board crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31, 2015. Ambulances reached the site and began evacuating 'casualties,' officials and state media reported, without elaborating on their condition. The plane took off early in the morning from the southern Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh bound for Saint Petersburg in Russia but communication was lost 23 minutes after departure, officials said. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVA (Photo credit should read OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 31: A relative of passengers of Russian Airbus-321 aircraft reacts at Pulkovo international airport in Saint Petersburg, Russia on October 31, 2015. A Russian Airbus-321 aircraft with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, according to the Egyptian Prime Minister's office. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St Petersburg. (Photo by Sergey Mihailicenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 31: Relatives of passengers of Russian Airbus-321 aircraft react at Pulkovo international airport in Saint Petersburg, Russia on October 31, 2015. A Russian Airbus-321 aircraft with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, according to the Egyptian Prime Minister's office. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St Petersburg. (Photo by Sergey Mihailicenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Relatives wait for information at Pulkovo international airport outside Saint Petersburg after a Russian plane with 224 people on board crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31, 2015. Ambulances reached the site and began evacuating 'casualties,' officials and state media reported, without elaborating on their condition. The plane took off early in the morning from the southern Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh bound for Saint Petersburg in Russia but communication was lost 23 minutes after departure, officials said. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVA (Photo credit should read OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 31: Relatives of passengers of Russian Airbus-321 aircraft react at Pulkovo international airport in Saint Petersburg, Russia on October 31, 2015. A Russian Airbus-321 aircraft with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, according to the Egyptian Prime Minister's office. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St Petersburg. (Photo by Sergey Mihailicenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Relatives wait at the Pulkovo international airport outside St. Petersburg after a Russian plane with 224 people on board crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31, 2015. Ambulances reached the site and began evacuating 'casualties,' officials and state media reported, without elaborating on their condition. The plane took off early in the morning from the southern Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh bound for Saint Petersburg in Russia but communication was lost 23 minutes after departure. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVA (Photo credit should read OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 31: Relatives of passengers of Russian Airbus-321 aircraft react at Pulkovo international airport in Saint Petersburg, Russia on October 31, 2015. A Russian Airbus-321 aircraft with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, according to the Egyptian Prime Minister's office. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St Petersburg. (Photo by Sergey Mihailicenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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MORE TO READ: Probe Turns Toward Who Had Access to Jetliner

Britain was "looking with the airlines and the Egyptians at introducing emergency measures that will allow us to bring back the British people ... safely and securely," he added.

Sarah Cotterill said she was about to "board the plane" to London Wednesday when the flight suspension was announced. She told BBC that "after spending about three hours at the airport we've been bussed back to our hotel, and that's where we are at the moment."

Ireland also suspended flights, but Russia — which recently began a military intervention in Syria against ISIS — continues to allow flights to Sharm el-Sheikh.

A senior Russian lawmaker said Britain's decision to stop flights from Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh resort was motivated by London's opposition to Russian action in Syria, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

"There is geopolitical opposition to the actions of Russia in Syria," said Konstantin Kosachev, a senior member of Russia's upper house of parliament.

A spokesman for Russian president Vladimir Putin told reporters that Moscow "cannot rule out a single theory" about the crash.

U.S. officials also stressed that it's too early to conclude that for certain that ISIS bombed the jet, telling NBC News that mechanical failure remains a possibility.

Metrojet, whose official company name is Kogalymavia, briefly grounded its three other Airbus A321 aircraft for safety checks Thursday but all had been passed as fit to fly, RIA news agency reported citing cited Russian state transport agency, Rostransnadzor.

Security experts have warned that fallout from Saturday's crash could dramatically raise the stakes for the U.S.-led coalition in its battle against ISIS.

Among the likely scenarios if it turns out that ISIS has developed the capability to target planes is that Russia would sharply increase its military presence in Syria. A senior U.S. military official in the Middle East told NBC News that Russia would likely retaliate "heavily and militarily" is a bomb is found to be the cause.

Thursday's developments came as the first of the crash victims was laid to rest at a funeral service in a medieval church in city in northern Russia.

Nina Lushchenko, 60, who worked in a school cafeteria all her life, was honored in a a whitewashed 16th-century church in Veliky Novgorod, about 100 miles south of St. Petersburg.

Family and friends remembered her as a good mother and grandmother who had considered taking her granddaughter with her on vacation but later decided against it.

RELATED: Notable plane crashes in recent years

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Notable plane crashes in recent years
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Russian plane crash: Tourists stranded in Sharm el-Sheikh
A photo taken on July 23, 2014 shows the crash site of the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, in a field near the village of Grabove, in the Donetsk region. The first bodies from flight MH17 arrived in the Netherlands on July 23 almost a week after it was shot down over Ukraine, with grieving relatives and the king and queen solemnly receiving the as yet unidentified victims. AFP PHOTO/ BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
Firefighters (L) inspect a house damaged by fire caused after a light plane crashed into a residential area in Tokyo on July 26, 2015. The light single-engine plane crashed into a residential area in Tokyo, setting fire to several houses and reportedly killing three people. JAPAN OUT -- AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS (Photo credit should read JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)
VENICE, CA - MARCH 05: A general view at the Penmar Golf Course after a single-engine plane piloted by actor Harrison Ford crashed on March 5, 2015 in Venice, California. Ford was reportedly taken to a nearby hospital in fair to moderate condition. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
Iranian security forces react next to the remains of a plane as they secure the scene of a crash near Tehran's Mehrabad airport on August 10, 2014. A civilian airliner crashed on take-off near the Mehrabad airport in the capital, Iranian news agencies said, with reports that almost 50 people were killed. AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE (Photo credit should read ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)
GAITHERSBURG, MD - DEC 08: Three people were killed in this house after it caught fire due to a plane that crashed just yards away. A plane crashed into houses on Drop Forge Lane in Gaithersburg, Maryland today. Three persons were killed in the plane and 3 persons were killed in one of the homes. (Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Indonesian rescuers search through wreckage of the Trigana Air ATR 42-300 twin-turboprop plane at the crash site in the mountainous area of Oksibil on August 18, 2015. A plane that crashed in eastern Indonesia was found on August 18 'completely destroyed' with the bodies of all 54 passengers and crew strewn amid the wreckage in a fire-blackened jungle clearing, officials said. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
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