CAIRO — A Russian passenger plane carrying 224 people crashed in the Sinai peninsula Saturday, killing all on board, officials said.
Egypt’s government said the plane disappeared about 25 minutes after takeoff from the airport in Sharm el-Sheikh — a popular tourist destination — en route for St. Petersburg. The Airbus A321 operated by Metrojet had 217 passengers and seven crew on board. Seventeen children were among the dead, Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
Egyptian Air Force planes later spotted wreckage from the missing airliner close to al Hassana, in a mountainous area of the Sinai peninsula, according to a statement from the government which said 45 ambulances had been dispatched to the crash site.
As tearful relatives gathered at St. Petersburg airport awaiting news of their loved ones, Russia’s embassy in Egypt said on Twitter that no passengers had survived the crash.
The Belarus Ministry of Foreign Affairs said one of its citizens was on board the plane. With the majority of the passengers believed to be Russian, Saturday’s crash could be the biggest aviation disaster in the country’s post-Soviet history.
Relatives of passengers on board a crashed Russian airliner gathered at the airport in St.Petersburg, Russia. Dmitry Lovetsky / AP
President Vladimir Putin declared a nationwide day of mourning and and ordered government ministries to offer immediate assistance to relatives of those who died, according to Reuters.
Airbus CEO Tom Enders expressed condolences to Putin in a letter Saturday, and said Airbus will work closely with Russian authorities.
Secretary of State John Kerry also offered his sympathies to those affected, while Israel’s military offered assistance to Russia and Egypt if needed.
There was no immediate indication of what caused the crash. Egyptian state-run television reported that rescue teams had identified the location of the plane’s black box.
Egypt’s Cabinet said in a statement that the Ministry of Civil Aviation sent an investigation team to the crash site, adding that it was “premature” to speculate on why the crash happened.
Two of Europe’s largest airlines, German carrier Lufthansa and Air France-KLM, said they would not fly over the Sinai peninsula until there was clarity about the cause of the crash, Reuters reported.
According to the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there were 214 Russian and three Ukrainian passengers aboard, including 138 women, 62 men and 17 children.
The plane crashed in an area of northern Sinai where Egyptian security forces have been fighting an militant insurgency …Read More
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