A Russian passenger plane has crashed in a mountainous area of Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, killing all 224 passengers and crew on board, prompting several major airlines to review the flight route. Germany’s Lufthansa, Air France and Emirates said they would halt flights over Sinai until the cause of the crash became clear.
The Airbus A321 was operated by Russian airline Kogalymavia and was carrying 200 adult passengers, 17 children and seven crew en route from the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg when it lost contact 23 minutes into its flight. The passengers on board included 214 Russians and three Ukrainians, the Egyptian government said in a statement. “Unfortunately, all passengers of Kogalymavia flight 9268 Sharm el-Sheikh [to] Saint Petersburg have died. We issue condolences to family and friends,” said a message on the Russian embassy’s Facebook page.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the Australian embassy in Cairo and Moscow had contacted local authorities and confirmed that no Australians were listed onboard the flight. A profile of the flight released by flight tracking site flightradar24.com showed the plane climbing to 33,000 feet, then suddenly descending 5,000 feet before losing contact. Egyptian military planes then found the wreckage and began working to evacuate the dead, a statement from the government said.
“Military planes have discovered the wreckage of the plane … in a mountainous area, and 45 ambulances have been directed to the site to evacuate dead and wounded,” the statement read. According to the Reuters news agency, an anonymous officer at the site said the plane had split into two. “I now see a tragic scene. A lot of dead on the ground and many who died whilst strapped to their seats,” the officer said.
“The plane split into two, a small part on the tail end that burned and a larger part that crashed into a rock. Egpyt’s prime minister Ismail Sharif said in a news conference that 129 bodies had been recovered so far. The Egyptian government said Mr Sharif had visited the airport at the edge of the peninsula, where “15 bodies were airlifted to the Zeinhom morgue in Cairo”.