Search and rescue officer says all 224 passengers and crew on flight from Sharm el-Sheikh likely to have died in Sinai crash
A Russian plane carrying more than 200 passengers from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh has crashed in central Sinai with all on board feared dead.
The jet, operated by the Russian company Kogalymavia and branded as Metrojet, was “completely destroyed with all on board likely to have died”, a security officer from the search and rescue team said.
Destined for St Petersburg, the flight was carrying 224 people, including 17 children and seven crew members.
The crash site was found on Saturday morning in southern Arish, a mountainous area of central Sinai, but poor weather conditions were making it difficult for rescue crews to reach the scene, the security officer said.
Northern Sinai is home to groups of Islamist militants, many affiliated to Islamic State, but there were no indications the plane was shot down, Egyptian security sources told Reuters.
A statement from the Egyptian prime minister’s office said Sherif Ismail had formed a cabinet-level crisis committee to deal with the crash, which was believed to have been caused by a mechanical failure.
The plane, which had a tail number of EI-ETJ, lost contact 23 minutes after takeoff while flying at more than 30,000 ft above sea level, according to the plane tracker website Flight Radar. It had begun to make a steep descent at a rate of 6,000 feet per minute shortly before communications were lost.
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) 31 октября 2015
Russia’s aviation authority, Rosaviatsiya, said flight 7K9268 had left at 03:51 GMT and was due into St Petersburg’s Pulkovo airport at 12:10, it told TASS news agency. The plane had failed to make scheduled contact with Cyprus air traffic control and disappeared from the radar.
The Rosaviatsiya spokesman Sergey Izvolsky said: “According to preliminary reports, the Airbus A320 belonging to Kagalymavia, en route from Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg has taken off at 6.51am Moscow time.
“At 7.14am it failed to contact Larnaca [in Cyprus] and disappeared from radars. The plane carried 212 passengers and seven crew members.”
The Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh is a popular destination for Russian tourists.