Early saturday morning at 5:00, the Airbus A321 with flight number 7K9268, operated by the Russian company Kolavia, left the popular Egyptian town of Sharm-El-Sheikh at the Red Sea, heading for St-Petersburg, Russia. 20 minutes later, at an altitude of 31,000 ft all communications with the plane were lost and it started making a steep descent at 6,000 feet per minute. Shortly afterwards it disappeared from the radar. All 217 passengers, including 17 children, and 7 crew members probably died. Sharm-El-Sheikh is a very popular holiday destination for Russians and most of the passengers were Russians.
A few hours later the first debris was found on the Sinai Peninsula. The plane had split in two parts and the largest part had crashed into rock, according to an officer on the ground.
Rescue teams went to the place to evacuate possible survivors, but none have been found so far. The rescue crew was having difficulties to reach the area due to bad weather conditions. Any possible survivors and the bodies of the victims will be transported to Cairo.
The plane crashed in a military zone in The Northern Sinai area where ISIS is active. The area is not accessible for tourists or press. ISIS has claimed the attack, but experts say it is very unlikely the plane had been shot down because ISIS does not have the necessary arms to shoot a plane at this altitude. Although Russian authorities suspect retaliation for their presence in Syria, sabotage still is a possibility and will be investigated.
The Egyptian Minister of Aviation, Mohamed Hossam, does not want to make any conclusions yet, but doesn’t exclude a technical failure.
A Russian investigation team is on its way to Egypt to investigate the crash. Russian president Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences to the family of the victims and promised to send rescue teams to help Egypt with the recovery of the bodies.
Around noon, family and friends of the victims began arriving at St-Petersburg airport because the plane was due to arrive. The Russian government will organize psychological assistance for the families. #News #Middle East #Boko Haram