18-y-o Russian aircraft carrying 224 people crashes in Sinai, no survivors
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP):
A Russian aircraft carrying 224 people, including 17 children, crashed today in a remote mountainous region in the Sinai Peninsula about 20 minutes after taking off from a Red Sea resort popular with Russian tourists, the Egyptian government said.
There were no survivors, the Russian Embassy in Cairo said on its Twitter account.
Adel Mahgoub, chairman of the state company that runs Egypt's civilian airports, said that, except for three Ukrainian passengers, everyone on board was Russian. An Egyptian Cabinet statement said the passengers were 138 women, 62 men and 17 children. It said the aircraft, an Airbus 321, was 18 years old. There were seven crew members.
Most of the bodies recovered so far from the crash site were burned, said Egyptian military and security officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
A civil aviation ministry statement said Egyptian military search and rescue teams found the wreckage of the passenger jet in the Hassana area some 70 kilometers (44 miles) south of the city of el-Arish, an area in northern Sinai where Egyptian security forces have for years battled a burgeoning Islamic militant insurgency which is now led by a local affiliate of the extremist Islamic State group.
It said the plane took off from Sharm el-Sheikh shortly before 6 a.m. for St Petersburg in Russia and disappeared from radar screens 23 minutes after takeoff.
Egyptian Prime Minister Seherif Ismail briefly toured the crash site before he went to the Red Sea city of Suez where some of the victims' bodies were being taken before they are sent on to Cairo, the Cabinet statement said.
According to Russian news agencies, the Russian airliner was a charter flight under contract with the St Petersburg-based Brisco tour company.
Russian airlines became infamous for poor safety in the early years following the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, which brought severe financial troubles and regulatory disorder. Although accidents have diminished in recent years, crashes persist, many of them blamed on human error.
The Egyptian officials said the aircraft was cruising at 36,000 feet (about 11,000 meters) when contact with air traffic controllers was lost.