Cairo/Moscow, Oct 31 (IANS) A Russian airliner crashed in central Sinai in Egypt on Saturday with more than 200 people on board, with most of them likely killed, media reports said.
Kolavia Flight 7K9268, an Airbus A321, enroute to St. Petersburg, went off the radar 23 minutes after taking off from Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport, RT news reported.
The plane was carrying 212 passengers and seven crew members. Seventeen of the passengers were children. According to the Russian embassy in Egypt, all on board were Russian citizens.
Egyptian authorities have presumed all on-board killed.
The Egyptian prime minister’s office confirmed that the plane did go missing over Sinai and said a cabinet level crisis committee has been convened to deal with the incident.
The crash site was discovered hours later in a desolate mountainous area of central Sinai, Egypt’s aviation ministry reported.
The plane was to contact air traffic control in Turkish Cyprus’ Larnaca after leaving Egypt’s airspace, but failed to do so.
A source at Sharm El-Sheikh airport told Russia state-run news agency RIA Novosti that the pilot of the missing plane requested a change of course, saying the jet would have to land in Cairo.
The source said the crew of the crashed plane had complained to the airport’s technical service that the jet had engine problems.
The Egyptian military said access to the crash site may be difficult due to the volatile security situation in the Sinai.
Large parts of the peninsula are overrun by militants, with only coastal areas in the north and south adequately guarded by security forces. The crash site is some 100 km south of Arish, the largest city in the Sinai.
The last big Russian airline accident happened in November 2013, when Tatarstan Airlines Flight 363 crashed at Kazan International Airport while attempting to land. Fifty people died in the incident.