UPDATE 9-Russian airliner with 224 aboard crashes in Egypt's Sinai, all killed – Reuters

* Plane disappears from radar, descends steeply* Russia investigating airline* Islamic State claims responsibility, Russia says untrue* Two major airlines suspend flights over Sinai

(Adds prime minister news conference)By Yusri Mohammed and Ahmed Mohamed HassanISMAILIA, Egypt/CAIRO, Oct 31 (Reuters) – A Russian airliner
carrying 224 passengers crashed into a mountainous area of
Egypt’s Sinai peninsula on Saturday shortly after losing radar
contact near cruising altitude, killing all aboard.A militant group affiliated to Islamic State in Egypt, Sinai
Province, said in a statement it had brought down the plane “in
response to Russian airstrikes that killed hundreds of Muslims
on Syrian land”, but Russia’s Transport Minister told Interfax
news agency the claim “can’t be considered accurate”.The Airbus A321, operated by Russian airline Kogalymavia
under the brand name Metrojet, was flying from the Red Sea
resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg in Russia when it
went down in central Sinai soon after daybreak, the aviation
ministry said.”I now see a tragic scene,” an Egyptian security officer at
the site told Reuters by telephone. “A lot of dead on the ground
and many who died whilst strapped to their seats.”The plane split into two, a small part on the tail end that
burned and a larger part that crashed into a rockface. We have
extracted at least 100 bodies and the rest are still inside,”
the officer, who requested anonymity, said.Both black boxes of the plane had been found, Mohamed Hossam
Kemal, the civil aviation minister, told a news conference.Kemal said communications between the plane and air traffic
control before the crash had been normal and that nothing
irregular had occurred before the accident.”The plane did not request a change of route,” he said.Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail also told the news
conference that there did not appear to be any unusual activity
behind the crash but the facts would not be clear until further
investigations had been carried out.Ismail said 129 bodies had so far been removed and the
chances of finding survivors were now near-impossible.

Bodies were being transported to various hospitals with 34
arriving in the Zeinhom morgue in Cairo early in the evening.Islamic State, in a statement on Twitter, said it had
brought down the aircraft.Sinai is the scene of an insurgency by militants close to
Islamic State, who have killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and
police and have also attacked …Read More

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