Experts search for cause of Russian plane crash in Egypt
Investigators are working to discover what caused a Russian passenger
airliner to crash in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula killing all 224 people on
The Airbus-A321-200 crashed in a remote mountainous area 23 minutes after taking off from a popular Red Sea resort.
Two major European airlines announced they would stop flying over the
area for safety reasons after a local affiliate of the extremist
Islamic State (IS) group claimed it "brought down" the aircraft.
Russia's transport minister dismissed that claim as not credible.
Almost everyone on board the plane operated by the Moscow-based
Metrojet airline was Russian, and 25 children died. Ukraine said four of
its citizens were passengers. There were seven crew members.
Egypt's civil aviation ministry said the plane's wreckage was found
in the Hassana area some 44 miles south of the city of el-Arish.
It is in an area of northern Sinai where Egyptian security forces
have for years fought local Islamic militants who in recent months
claimed allegiance to IS.
The ministry said the plane took off from the resort city of Sharm
el-Sheikh shortly before 6am local time for St Petersburg in Russia and
disappeared from radar screens 23 minutes after take-off.
Egyptian prime minister Sherif Ismail toured the crash site and later
told a Cairo news conference that 129 bodies had been recovered.
Photos from the site released by his office showed the badly damaged
sky blue tail of the aircraft, with the Metrojet logo still visible. In
the background, heaps of smouldering debris dotted the barren terrain.
One photo showed a member of the search team holding the flight
recorder, or black box, which Mr Ismail said would be scrutinised as
investigators try to discover what caused the crash.
Russian investigators were expected to arrive in Egypt today.
Natalya Trukhacheva, identified as the wife of co-pilot Sergei
Trukachev, told Russian state-controlled NTV that her husband had
complained about the plane's condition.
She said a daughter "called him up before he flew out - he complained
before the flight that the technical condition of the aircraft left
much to be desired".
One Egyptian official, Ayman al-Muqadem of the government's Aviation
Incidents Committee, said before the plane lost contact with air traffic
controllers, the pilot had radioed and said the aircraft was
experiencing technical problems and that he intended to try and land at
the nearest airport.
Metrojet said the A321-200 aircraft was in good shape and that the
pilot was experienced. It identified the captain as Valery Nemov and
said he had 12,000 hours of flying experience, including 3,860 in A321s.