|The doomed Airbus A321, pictured earlier this month in Moscow was reported missing soon after it took off from Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, officials claimed the pilot warned of a technical problem before the disaster and asked to land at the nearest available airport|
Egyptian security forces have heard voices inside the wrecked fuselage of a Russian passenger jet which crashed into the Sinai desert in northern Egypt as the bodies of 100 victims have been recovered. The aircraft, which had 200 adult passengers, 17 children and seven crew crashed less than 25 minutes after it took off from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. The bodies of all 17 children on board have been recovered.
The Irish-owned aircraft was leased by a Russian airline. It crashed in the Hassana area, south of Arish. Security forces discovered the crash wreckage in a remote mountainous area in a region containing many ISIS-affiliated terrorists.
|Grieving friends relatives have begun arriving at St Petersburg airport awaiting further news about the disaster from airline officials|
|Latest reports suggest that some people may have survived the crash although 100 bodies have been recovered by Egyptian authorities|
Ayman al-Mugadem of the Aviation Incidents Committee said the pilot warned air traffic controllers that aircraft had developed 'a technical problem' and he needed to land as soon as possible. According to radar data, the aircraft was descending at more than 6,000 feet per minute shortly before the impact. The head of Egypt's civil aviation authority, Mahmud al-Zinati. said there were 'many dead' including 17 children.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has ordered his own team of experts to the crash site to determine the cause of the disaster. He has also declared a day of national mourning. He has already sent five aircraft to Egypt to assist with the investigation.
The Israeli Defence Forces confirmed they had intelligence assets in the region at the time of the crash. According to a statement: 'Since this morning the IDF assisted with aerial surveillance in the efforts to locate the Russian airplane that lost contact over the Sinai Peninsula. The IDF has offered continued assistance to both Russia and Egypt if required.' The wreckage was found roughly 60 miles south of the North Sinai town of El-Arish, Egyptian officials 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,' a cabinet statement said.
One official at the scene said: 'I now see a tragic scene. A lot of dead on the ground and many 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 rock. We have extracted at least 100 bodies and the rest are still inside.'
Officials and the state MENA news agency later said the 'casualties' were being transferred to nearby hospitals. The Egyptian Aviation Ministry said there were 63 men and 138 women on board. At Saint Petersburg's Pulkovo airport, anxious family members awaited news of their loved ones. Ella Smirnova, 25, said: 'I am meeting my parents. I spoke to them last on the phone when they were already on the plane, and then I heard the news." 'I will keep hoping until the end that they are alive, but perhaps I will never see them again.'
|As well as launching his own investigation, President Putin has announced that tomorrow will be a national day of morning in Russia|
A senior Egyptian aviation official said the plane was a charter flight operated by a Russian company carrying 217 passengers and seven crew members. The official said the plane was flying at an altitude of 30,000 feet when communication was lost. A senior official in Egypt air traffic control said that the pilot told him in their last communication that he was having trouble with the plane's radio system.
Russian aviation official Sergei Lzvolsky told Interfax news agency that the Kogalymavia Russian airline had departed Sharm el-Sheikh at 5:51 am local time. He said the Airbus 321 did not make contact as expected with air traffic controllers in Cyprus. Reports suggest the pilot was attempting an emergency landing at El-Arish international Airport.
The aircraft took off from Sharm el-Sheikh at 3.51GMT and was due to land in St Petersburg at 09:12GMT. The Russian Investigative Committee has launched its own probe and is looking for possible 'violations of flight safety procedures'.
Russia's Investigative Committee, the country's top investigative body, has opened an investigation into the crash of a Russian passenger jet in Egypt's Sinai peninsula for possible violations of flight safety procedures.
|According to flight data trackers, the aircraft plunged rapidly and lost speed before it lost radar contact|
The flight took off from Sinai's Sharm el-Sheikh, a popular destination for Russian tourists, at 5.51am local time and disappeared from radar screens 23 minutes after take-off, a statement carried by the MENA agency said. Egyptian emergency authorities have sent 45 ambulances to the scene to help with the rescue efforts.
There were no indications the aircraft was shot down, according to Egyptian security sources. However, the area the aircraft crashed in Egypt's North Sinai is home to a two-year-old Islamist insurgency and militants affiliated to ISIS have killed hundreds of soldiers and police.
The aircraft went down in an area where pilots are warned against flying at less than 24,000 feet because of the danger of 'dedicated anti-aircraft weapons'. Air crash investigators are currently on their way to the scene, but their work will be made more difficult by the inhospitable terrain and the presence of ISIS-affiliated terrorists.
The probe is being headed by Ayman Al-Mokadem according to Ahram.org. He said the pilot had requested a diversion before the crash for a 'technical failure'.
He claimed the pilot had asked for the nearest airport and may have been heading to Al-Arish in northern Sinai. Reports from local journalists claim that local tribesmen near the remote crash site claimed that the aircraft was 'burning' as it fell from the sky.
- Daily Mail