The 224 occupants of a Russian plane, tourists and crew members, were killed Saturday in the crash of their aircraft in Egypt, after the pilot had reported failures, but the group Islamic State (EI) claimed to have shot down the Airbus.
It is an Airbus A321 of the company Metrojet crashed.
Jihadists argue that it acted in retaliation to the Russian intervention in Syria, but the Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov, found this inaccurate claim, Egyptians “do not have any information that would confirm such insinuations.”
Contact with the Airbus A321-200 of the Russian company Kogalymavia, better known under the name of Metrojet, was lost 23 minutes after take-off at dawn, the airport of the famous resort of Sharm el- Sheikh, on the Red Sea, and while it was flying at an altitude of over 30,000 feet (9144 meters).
According to officials of the Egyptian Civil Aviation, Captain then complained of a technical failure of the communication system.
The plane had to go to St. Petersburg, Russia’s second city.
Plusieurs proches des personnes à bord de l’avion… (Photo Peter Kovalev, Reuters) – image 2.0
Several relatives of those aboard the plane that crashed were in shock at Pulkovo Airport in St. Petersburg.
“There are no survivors,” officials said, adding that the victims’ bodies and debris were scattered in a circle of 8 km in diameter and perhaps more, al-Hassana in a mountainous area desert province of North Sinai, bastion of EI.
A black box of the device has been found and will be analyzed, the government said.
A few hours after the crash, the Egyptian branch of the IU, who calls himself Sinai Province, said to be the cause of the crash, without specifying how. “Soldiers of the Caliphate were able to bring down a Russian plane carrying more than 220 crusaders who were all killed,” said the extremist group on its usual Twitter accounts.
Several military experts interviewed by AFP, however, believe that the insurgents of IE, including northern Sinai is the bastion, do not have missiles capable of reaching a plane at 30,000 feet.
They did however not exclude the possibility of a bomb on board or that the plane may have been hit by a rocket or a missile as he came down as a result of technical malfunctions or for other reasons after loss of radio contact.
Asked by journalists about the possibility of a “terrorist act”, the Egyptian Prime Minister Ismail Sharif has merely replied that “experts say that technically, airplanes can not be slaughtered at such a high altitude (from 30 000 feet) and that the black box will reveal the reasons of the crash. ”
The French airline Air France and German Lufthansa announced that they no longer flying over the Sinai area, “until further notice” and “for safety reasons”.
From 10 months to 77 years
Of the 217 passengers, 214 were Russians and three Ukrainian, said the Egyptian government. He referred 138 women and 17 children. The crew consisted of seven members. Moscow spoke of passengers aged 10 months to 77 years –a fillette–.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the dispatch of rescue teams, investigators and his Minister of Transport Maxim Sokolov at the scene of the crash.
The French and German governments on their side will send investigators to their offices for investigations of air accidents, as is the procedure for all incidents involving Airbus, the two countries being key members of the European consortium Airbus.
“I expect my parents, I told them on the phone when they were already on the plane, and then I heard the news” lamented Ella Smirnova, a young Russian woman of 25 in shock at Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg.
The latest air crash in Egypt was in January 2004 and had 148 people including 134 French tourists. A Boeing 737 of the Egyptian company Flash Airlines had crashed into the Red Sea, a few minutes after taking off from Sharm el-Sheikh airport.
Since the popular revolt of 2011 that drove Hosni Mubarak from power, Egypt has experienced years of chaos and turmoil that have driven tourists from the land of the pharaohs. In 2013, the first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi Islamist, was deposed army and a bloody crackdown befell his supporters.
Since then the security forces of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi face almost daily deadly attacks in the Egyptian branch of the IU –Who calls himself the same Province Sinaï– who assured to have shot down the Russian plane.
Despite the proliferation of these attacks, the seaside resorts of the Red Sea remained a major tourist destination. They are mainly frequented by Russian tourists from Eastern Europe, who arrive daily by thousands aboard charter flights.