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VELIKY NOVGOROD, Russia – The first victim of Saturday's plane crash over Egypt was laid to rest on Thursday following a funeral service in a medieval church in city in northern Russia.
Russia's Airbus 321-200 crashed over the Sinai Peninsula en route from the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg, killing all 224 on board. An overwhelming majority of the passengers were Russians flying home from their Red Sea vacation.
Grief has struck St. Petersburg and its suburbs as mourners continue to bring flowers, candles and paper planes to the city's imperial-era square and the airport where the Metrojet flight had been due to land.
In the ancient city of Veliky Novgorod, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of St. Petersburg, family and friends on Thursday morning said their goodbyes to Nina Lushchenko, the first victim of the crash to be laid to rest. A church service was held in a whitewashed 16th-century church, overlooking the Volkhov River.
Lushchenko, 60, who worked in a school canteen all her life, was remembered as a good mother and grandmother. Her daughter told the Russian LifeNews television channel earlier this week that Lushchenko had considered taking her granddaughter with her on vacation but later decided against it.
Officials have refrained from stating the cause of the crash, citing the ongoing investigation. However, British and U.S. officials said Wednesday they have information suggesting the plane may have been brought down by a bomb, and Britain said it was suspending flights to and from the Sinai Peninsula indefinitely.
Rescue teams have retrieved 140 bodies from the scene and more than 100 body parts.
Russian rescue workers, combing a 40-square-kilometer area, should be finishing their search for remains of the victims of the plane crash and wreckage by Thursday evening, said Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov.
Associated Press writer Nataliya Vasilyeva contributed to this report from Moscow.