No likely survivors as debris of airliner carrying 224 Russians found in Sinai; no indication plane was shot down.
Last known location of crashed Russian plane. Screengrab: Flightradar24.com / Google Maps
Over 200 Russian tourists, including seventeen children, are feared dead after an airliner flying from Egypt to St. Petersburg crashed in central Sinai, Cairo confirmed Saturday, contradicting initial reports the plane had left the country safely.
A statement from the prime minister’s office confimred the crash, and Egyptian research teams have found debris belonging to the Airbus A-321, operated by Russian airline Kogalymavia with registration number KGL-9268, in a desolate mountainous area of central Sinai soon after daybreak, the aviation ministry said.
“Research and rescue forces found the debris of the Airbus 321,” the chief of Egypt’s state Aviation Accidents Commission, Ayman al-Moqdam said.
The plane was completely destroyed and most of those on board are likely to have died, an Egyptian security officer who had recently arrived at the scene told Reuters.
It took off at 5:51 a.m. Cairo time (0351 GMT) and disappeared from radar screens 23 minutes later, Egypt’s Civil Aviation Ministry said in a statement, adding later that after delays caused by poor weather conditions, Egyptian search and rescue teams located the site of the crash in the Hassana area 35 km (22 miles) south of the Sinai Mediterranean coastal city of Al Arish.
Survivors and bodies of those on board will be flown to Cairo, a security source said, as Egypt ordered an investigation into the crash and Russian President Putin sent his condolences to the victim’s family.
There were no indications that the Russian passenger plane was shot down, Egyptian security sources said. Egypt’s North Sinai is home to a two-year-old Islamist insurgency and militants affiliated to Islamic State have killed hundreds of soldiers and police.
Russia’s RIA news agency quoted a source in the Russian aviation authority as saying that in addition to the 17 children, also on board were 200 adult passengers and 7 crew members, RIA quoted the source as saying.
Aviation authorities lost contact with the plane shortly after it took off from the Egyptian Red Sea town of Sharm al-Sheikh in southern Sinai, Egyptian aviation authority sources said.
“Minutes after its take-off, we lost control with the plane, bound for an airport in federal Russia,” an aviation official said, adding that all the passengers aboard were Russian holidaymakers.
However, Egypt’s al-Moqdam had initially said on Saturday that the missing passenger plane had safely left Egyptian airspace and made contact with Turkish air traffic control.
“The … Russian airline had told us that the Russian plane we lost contact with is safe and that it has contacted Turkish air traffic control and is passing through Turkish skies now,” he said in a statement.
Beforehand, Egyptian air traffic control said it had lost contact with the civilian airliner carrying. At the time, security sources in the Sinai Peninsula confirmed reports that an aircraft was missing.