Saturday, October 31, 2015

Russian Airliner With 224 on Board Crashes in Egypt

Earlier on Saturday Egyptian air traffic control said they lost contact with the Russian airliner en route from Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg.

Voices of trapped passengers can be heard in sections of the Russian airliner which crashed in Egypt's Sinai peninsula, an Egyptian security official at the scene told Reuters. The remains of about 100 passengers were found at the crash site by rescue workers.

Bodies of five children have been recovered, he added. Seventeen children, aged 2 to 17, were on board.

The plane went down in a mountainous area in central Sinai and poor weather conditions have made it difficult for rescue crews to get to the scene, the officer said. Other sources, however, suggest the weather conditions in the vicinity of the crash site were relatively benign.

An Egyptian Health Ministry official said 45 ambulances were sent to central Sinai's Al-Hasana City, adding that an "emergency status" was declared.

A source in Russia's Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsia) told RIA Novosti the Kogalymavia Flight 9268 carrying 217 passengers and 7 crew took off from Sharm El-Sheikh at 3:31 GMT and went off radar after 23 minutes of flight. Most of the passengers are said to be Russian tourists, including 17 children.

The Russian A321 pilot informed air-traffic controller of technical faults after take-off and asked for route change, a source in the Sharm el-Sheikh airport told RIA Novosti.

MENA news agency reported that Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail canceled all his scheduled visits on Saturday following the aircrash. A statement from the prime minister's office said Ismail had formed a cabinet level crisis committee to deal with the crash.

There were no indications that the Russian Airbus 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.

Initial reports about the fate of the airliner were conflicting, with the head of Egypt's central air traffic accident authority saying the plane was safe and heading for Turkey.

A team of Russian investigators is already en route to Egypt to determine whether any negligence or failures to observe proper procedures took place before takeoff, according to the Emergencies Ministry.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a statement expressing his condolences to the families of the victims.


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